North Korea a larger global threat than Iran, Liberman says
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North Korea a larger global threat than Iran, Liberman says

Defense minister calls increasing use of advanced weapons by irrational leaders the dawn of a 'new era'

Judah Ari Gross is The Times of Israel's military correspondent.

Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman speaks at a conference hosted by the Netanya Academic College in Netanya  on March 21, 2017. (screen capture: Facebook)
Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman speaks at a conference hosted by the Netanya Academic College in Netanya on March 21, 2017. (screen capture: Facebook)

North Korea’s burgeoning nuclear weapons program poses more of a threat to world order than Iran, or any other terrorist group, Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman said on Tuesday.

“North Korea stands at the top of the priority list,” the defense minister said at a conference in Netanya held in memory of former Mossad chief Meir Dagan.

Liberman said Pyongyang “seems to have crossed the red line with its recent nuclear tests.”

Liberman’s speech at the Netanya Academic College took a more global approach to terror threats, saying it wasn’t just the Middle East that is facing upheaval.

“The entire world is in the midst of a squall,” he said.

The defense minister went on to say that Iran, with its widespread support for terrorist organizations, was the second biggest threat to global security.

Illustrative: People watch the news showing file footage of North Korea's missile launch at a railway station in Seoul, South Korea on February 12, 2017. (Jung Yeon-Je/AFP)
Illustrative: People watch the news showing file footage of North Korea’s missile launch at a railway station in Seoul, South Korea on February 12, 2017. (Jung Yeon-Je/AFP)

The third threat facing the world, according to Liberman, are terrorist organizations armed with advanced missiles and unconventional weapons.

“We’re just ahead of a new era of accurate missile and unconventional weapons in the hands irrational people,” Liberman said.

In apparent reference to recent reported Israeli strikes on Hezbollah targets in Syria, Liberman said Israel did not want to get involved in the country’s years-long civil war, but it would “not tolerate” the threat of advanced missiles in the hands of terrorists.

“We’re not looking for adventures, but we will work against it at any opportunity,” he said.

Looking locally, Liberman encouraged his fellow lawmakers to keep their expectations about Donald Trump’s administration in line with reality.

“We don’t have the option to fight with Donald Trump,” he said.

“If someone thinks that we are going to work unilaterally, they have not seen the situational assessment,” Liberman said, referring to calls by some right-wing lawmakers to annex portions of the West Bank.

He said annexing the territory would cost Israel some NIS 20 billion.

While telling Israeli politicians to keep their “slogans” in check, he noted that there was opportunity for better US-Israel relations under the current administration.

“It’s a Republican government, not a Donald Trump government,” Liberman said.

The right-wing now dominates the US Congress, the Supreme Court, and there is a “very friendly” president in the White House, he added.

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