“A nuclear Iran is unacceptable,” Defense Minister Ehud Barak said in an interview Wednesday morning on Army Radio, referring to the Islamic Republic’s alleged nuclear weapons program. He stated that actions regarding Israel’s security would be decided by its government — a reference to Israel’s readiness to thwart Iran if the international community fails to do so.
Barak accepted the possibility that Iran could retain a civilian nuclear capability, with international monitors ensuring that uranium enrichment does not occur. But he insisted Iran transfer the enriched material in its possession to another state.
On Tuesday, International Atomic Energy Agency chief Yukiya Amano announced that an agreement had been reached for renewed UN inspection of Iran’s nuclear facilities, but Barak called the powers’ current demands of Iran “far from Israeli expectations.” He called for stronger sanctions if the international community expected Iran to give up uranium enrichment.
Barak said he was skeptical about the IAEA deal, which he called an Iranian ploy to fend off international pressure.
Though the defense minister commented that he did not consider world leaders naive about Iran, he added that “they seek to achieve progress and therefore are willing to compromise.” Amending a phrase used previously by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Barak said that a nuclear-armed Iran is “not a matter of days or weeks, but not a matter of years either.”
Referring to Wednesday’s elections in Egypt, Barak said that “the new president might threaten already existing agreements, including the peace treaty. On the other hand, there is a great interest in Egypt in maintaining the treaty with Israel. We do not control what happens in Egypt; time will tell.”
Barak added that Israel and other countries would have to use “direct and indirect contact” with Egypt to influence policy there.