Israeli President Shimon Peres welcomed Friday the news of a possible meeting between Iranian president Hasan Rouhani and US President Barack Obama, saying that sanctions on the Islamic Republic have had a positive effect on its willingness to negotiate.
“The sanctions are doing their job and are influencing the leadership in Iran,” Peres stated during a meeting with his Ukrainian counterpart, Viktor Yanukovych in Jerusalem.
“I hope we are hearing a new voice coming from [Tehran],” he said.
Speaking to Syria as well as Iran, the Israeli president urged the international community to clearly convey that illegal activity in the development of unconventional weapons will result in grave consequences.
“The world’s leaders must understand that every crime has its punishment,” he said.
Peres expressed hope that the dismantling of Iran’s nuclear program may be achieved by peaceful means, but stated that Israel will not be deterred from taking additional action should the need arise.
“If we can bring an end to the Iranian nuclear program and fix things without war, this is of course the preferred option,” Peres said. “The penalty for developing nuclear weapons is sanctions, but if they do not bring such activity to an end other measures will be taken.”
The president’s tone was in stark contrast to that of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who said Thursday that the world must not be deceived by Rouhani’s moderate statements. Netanyahu was speaking in response to an NBC interview with the Iranian president, which aired on Wednesday.
In the interview, Rouhani said that his country has never sought and will never seek a nuclear bomb, that Iran does “not seek war with any country,” and that he has full authority to resolve the nuclear standoff with the West.
“The Iranians are continuing to deceive so that the centrifuges continue spinning. The real test lies in the Iranian regime’s actions, not words,” said Netanyahu in a statement released by the Prime Minister’s Office.
Peres also discussed the US-Russian-brokered deal to rid Syria of its chemical weapons, expressing hope on Friday that the agreement would be successfully implemented.
“[I hope that] the tragedy of terrorism and killing of children will be over,” Peres said.
“The war and killing in Syria concerns the entire world, and poses a threat to citizens across the globe,” he stressed.
A UN diplomat, speaking on condition of anonymity, confirmed the transfer of information, saying, “It’s quite long … and being translated.”
Syria is believed to possess around 1,000 tons of chemical toxins, and has agreed to destroy them under a joint Russian-US proposal designed to avert a US military strike.
Earlier this week, a Saudi newspaper published a report based on Syrian opposition sources that the Assad regime is smuggling chemical weapons to Hezbollah through tunnels connecting Syrian and Lebanese villages.