Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon on Monday issued a scathing critique of the Obama administration, declaring that Israel cannot rely on the US to thwart Iran’s nuclear program, accusing the administration of broadcasting weakness throughout the world, and warning that its perceived weakness was inviting further terrorism against US targets.
Speaking at a Tel Aviv University event reported by the Haaretz daily, Ya’alon said Israel could not afford to rely on the Obama administration to lead an action against Iran’s nuclear program, and that Israel could only rely on itself. Israel had believed that “the one who should lead the campaign against Iran is the US,” but instead, “the US at a certain stage began negotiating with them, and unfortunately in the Persian bazaar the Iranians were better,” he said. Therefore, “we (Israelis) have to look out for ourselves.”
Ya’alon’s office confirmed his remarks about Iran, but refused to comment as to whether the defense minister was advocating an Israeli strike on Iran. Ya’alon was widely reported to have opposed an Israeli resort to force against Iran in the past, but the Haaretz report said his comments Sunday indicated that he had changed his stance, and was now inclined to support Israeli military intervention in Iran.
In his reported remarks Sunday, Ya’alon was adamant that “Iran is fooling the world” about its nuclear program,” but said the West preferred to put off any confrontation — “to next year, or the next term; but it will blow up in the end.” The Iranians had been “on all fours” because of sanctions and diplomatic isolation, but had been allowed to recover, he charged. The interim deal signed in Geneva in November “is very comfortable for the Iranians,” he said, enabling them to establish themselves as a threshold state “and break out to the bomb when they choose to do so.”
Ya’alon spoke as world powers and Iran are set to start a new round of talks over Iran’s contested nuclear program in Vienna. Iran denies it seeks nuclear weapons. On Sunday Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif predicted that the talks, scheduled for Tuesday and Wednesday, would not produce a final deal. Iran capped uranium enrichment after the six-month interim deal was struck in November, in return for easing non-core sanctions by the West.
Moving to a wider critique of the Obama administration, Ya’alon reportedly stressed several times that the US was radiating weakness in every region worldwide. “The Sunni camp [in the Middle East] expected that the US would support it, and would be as determined as Russia is in its support of the Shiite axis,” he was quoted as saying. “I hear voices of disappointment in the region. I was in Singapore, and I heard disappointment at the strengthening of China and the weakening of the United States. Look what’s happening in the Ukraine; there, to my sorrow, the US is broadcasting weakness.”
Ya’alon, a former IDF chief of General Staff, warned that if the US continued to show weakness internationally, its own national security would be severely damaged. “If you wait at home, terror will come calling again,” he said. “This is a war of civilizations. If you are perceived to be weak, that certainly does not pay in the world. I hope the US will reassert itself.”
AP contributed to this report.