Israel says it’s okay with Jordanian civilian nuclear program

Atomic energy chief responds to King Abdullah II’s complaint that Israel disrupts his country’s peaceful energy program

King Abdullah II of Jordan talking with Charlie Rose on CBS. (photo credit: Image capture from CBS)
King Abdullah II of Jordan talking with Charlie Rose on CBS. (photo credit: Image capture from CBS)

Israel does not object to Jordan’s civilian nuclear program aimed at generating electricity and water desalination, Israeli nuclear chief Shaul Chorev said on Wednesday.

Chorev, the director-general of the Israel Atomic Energy Commission, spoke to the 155-nation general conference of the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna, responding to King Abdullah’s charges last week that Israel continually disrupts Jordan’s nuclear development.

“When we started going down the road of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes, we approached some highly responsible countries to work with us,” Abdullah was quoted by AFP as saying. “And pretty soon we realized that Israel was putting pressure on those countries to disrupt any cooperation with us.”

“A Jordanian delegation would approach a potential partner, and one week later an Israeli delegation would be there, asking our interlocutors not to support Jordan’s nuclear energy bid,” added the monarch.

Chorev said in response that Israel contributed geological data to Jordan’s effort.

Chorev also addressed the Iran issue, warning Tehran to stop threatening Israel, and adding that the Jewish state was ready to defend itself against any menace to its existence.

Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Friday that the “uncultured” Zionists have reached the end of the line and are thus trying to start a sectarian war among different religious groups.

“I am confident that Zionists are on the way out and the world will be freed from their existence and justice will be established,” Ahmadinejad was quoted by the Iranian state news agency Fars as saying. “Although Zionists will fail to achieve their goals, all nations should remain vigilant against their plots.”

The Iranian president added that US decision-makers have already come to the understanding that the Zionist regime is “no longer beneficial to them,” adding that the Zionists, who are aware that Washington feels this way, are therefore seeking new ways to disturb the world order.

Alluding to those statements, Chorev warned that his country “does not remain indifferent in view of such direct and blunt threats.”

“Israel is competent to deter its enemies and to defend itself,” he told the meeting.

Chorev avoided any suggestion that Israel was contemplating a military strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities, a scenario touted by Israeli hard-liners as possibly the only way to stop what they say is Tehran’s march toward atomic arms.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, a proponent of such an option, made a direct appeal to American voters on Sunday to elect a president willing to draw a “red line” with Iran.

In the past week, Netanyahu has urged US President Barack Obama and other world leaders to state clearly at what point Iran would face a military attack. But Obama and his top aides, who repeatedly say all options remain on the table, have pointed to shared US-Israeli intelligence that suggests Iran hasn’t decided yet whether to build a bomb, despite pursuing the technology, and that there would be time for action beyond toughened sanctions already in place.

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