Ya’alon: Iran now a nuclear threshold state, presenting new challenge for Israel
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'With an enemy like Iran, there has to be a military option. Israel has to be ready to defend itself'

Ya’alon: Iran now a nuclear threshold state, presenting new challenge for Israel

Defense minister says Arab states will also have to be better armed; slams world powers for object lesson in 'how not to negotiate'

Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon. (screen capture: Channel 2)
Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon. (screen capture: Channel 2)

As a consequence of the bad deal reached this week, Iran is now a nuclear “threshold state,” Israel’s Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon said bleakly Friday. He said the world powers had shown “how not to conduct negotiations,” while the Iranians had provided an object lesson in how to get what they wanted.

Israel will have to adapt to the new challenge, including by ensuring it maintains its military option, he said. “With an enemy like Iran, there has to be a military option. Israel has to be ready to defend itself, by itself.”

Israel would now need to discuss with the US, whose Defense Secretary Ashton Carter is due here next week, “the compensation that Israel deserves in order to maintain its qualitative [military] edge.”

Arab states, too, “will have to be armed” more effectively against the dangers now posed by Iran, he said.

It had been a mistake by the US-led world powers to delay a confrontation until the next presidency or the next generation, Ya’alon said, referring to the terms of the newly signed agreement, which leaves Iran’s main nuclear facilities intact, but aims to thwart Iran’s path to the bomb for at least the next decade.

Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon meets with United States Deputy Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter, at the Ministry of Defense in Tel Aviv. July 21, 2013. (Photo credit: Ariel Hermoni/ Ministry of Defense/ FLASH90)
Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon meets with United States Deputy Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter, at the Ministry of Defense in Tel Aviv. July 21, 2013. (Photo credit: Ariel Hermoni/ Ministry of Defense/ FLASH90)

“This perception of avoiding conflict when you have to confront it — as in this situation with Iran – to put it off for the next decade, the next generation, this we cannot accept,” Ya’alon told Channel 2, in his first television interview since the agreement between Iran and the world powers was signed on Tuesday.

Defending Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu against opposition charges that Israel had failed to muster the influence to secure the “better deal” Netanyahu repeatedly called for, Ya’alon said that Israel and Netanyahu were the cause of the tough sanctions that forced Iran to negotiate in the first place.

“If it weren’t for the effort Israel has invested in recent years, there would be not the sanctions that were imposed on Iran,” he said.

However, the world powers had then mishandled the talks, he charged.

Like the prime minister, Ya’alon criticized the negotiating tactics of the P5+1 world powers — Britain, the US, China, France, Russia and Germany. “I think these negotiations will be studied for many years to come,” Yaalon said. “How did the world powers come with the great hand they had, without the need to reach an agreement, yet ultimately it appeared as though the world powers were the ones in need and not the Iranians.”

From left to right, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, German Foreign Minister Frank Walter Steinmeier, European Union High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, Head of the Iranian Atomic Energy Organization Ali Akbar Salehi, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammon, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and US Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz pose for a group picture at the United Nations building in Vienna, Austria, Tuesday, July 14, 2015. (Carlos Barria, Pool Photo via AP)
From left to right, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, German Foreign Minister Frank Walter Steinmeier, European Union High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, Head of the Iranian Atomic Energy Organization Ali Akbar Salehi, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammon, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and US Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz pose for a group picture at the United Nations building in Vienna, Austria, Tuesday, July 14, 2015. (Carlos Barria, Pool Photo via AP)

Iran had no cards and needed a deal, and yet Iran emerged with the deal it wanted, he said.

Ya’alon stressed that the agreement would not damage security relations between Israel and the United States.

“President Obama talks about his commitment to Israel’s security; so far defense ties have been excellent and they will continue to be excellent in the future.”

Still, there would now be “a lot to talk about” when Carter visits Israel next week. “On many fronts we are dealing with a common enemy.”

Ya’alon also expressed concern about the economic effect of lifting the sanctions on Iran, and the impact this will have on Iranian funding for terror groups in neighboring countries.

“Iran’s status as a nuclear threshold state, and the fact that Iran is about to receive billions, [means] there will be a terrorist threat from a Hezbollah with far more funding, from a Hamas with far more funding, from new fronts including in the West Bank, as well as the arming of neighboring countries,” he said.

“With all of these factors, we will in a few months — once the agreement is approved – have to discuss the compensation that Israel deserves in order to maintain its qualitative [military] edge.”

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