April 17, 2012
Barak: Israel did not promise not to attack Iran
Israel did not promise the United States that it would abstain from attacking Iran while negotiations are going on, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak said.
“We are not committing to anything,” Barak told Israel’s Army Radio during an interview from Bogota, Colombia. He added that Israel’s dialogue on the subject with America is “direct and open.”
Barak said the current negotiations between Iran and six world powers on Iran’s nuclear program taking place in Istanbul, Turkey, need to be “purposeful and results-oriented. They need to clarify if Iran is genuinely willing to stop its military nuclear program or not.
“For this we don’t need months upon months. It requires a few direct meetings where all the demands are put on the table. There you can see if the other side is playing for time, drawing it out through the year, or if indeed the other side is genuinely striving to find a solution.”
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on April 15 that the decision to continue the talks in five weeks in Baghdad amounts to a “freebie” for Iran, allowing them to continue to enrich uranium “without any limitation, any inhibition.”
Barak, who is on a five-day visit to Colombia and the United States, said that Israel believes the talks “will probably not have an impact or bring the Iranians to cease their nuclear program.”
“Of course we will be happy to be proven wrong,” he added.
Barak said, “The world must find a way of preventing this; not for Israel, but for the stability and peace of the world.”
Iran says its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes; the West fears that Iran may be enriching uranium in order to produce a nuclear bomb.
Netanyahu has called on the international community to halt Iran’s nuclear production by force if necessary, and has warned that the window in which to prevent Iran’s production of a nuclear bomb is rapidly closing.
Obama responded to Netanyahu’s “freebie” accusation on April 15, saying, “The notion that somehow we’ve given something away or a ‘freebie’ would indicate Iran has gotten something. In fact, they’ve got some of the toughest sanctions that they’re going to be facing coming up in just a few months if they don’t take advantage of these talks.”
Barak was scheduled to meet with his U.S. counterpart, Leon Panetta, on April 19 in Washington.