Israel’s President Peres Warns Of Military Option On Iran

by Dan Raviv

Elise Labott, now traveling far and wide as a foreign affairs reporter for CNN, got an interview with Israel’s president Shimon Peres in Jerusalem.  Peres, 88, is in a mostly ceremonial job now, but over the decades since Israel achieved independence in 1948 he coordinated clandestine defense programs, Israel’s nuclear project, and rose to be a controversial but constant leader on the political scene.  Peres has, of course, been Prime Minister and has faced many of the Jewish state’s most fateful dilemmas and decisions.  Needless to say, he is a very active character in the true-life stories in our book, Spies Against Armageddon: Inside Israel’s Secret Wars.

shimon peres, covert operations, spies against armageddon, iran nuclearThe interview was conducted, just when reports from Moscow said that the P5+1 nuclear negotiations with Iran appear to be faltering.  The six countries on one side of the bargaining table — the United States, Russia, China, Britain, France, and Germany — seem unable to persuade the Iranians to give up their high-level enrichment of uranium, so the European Union is pushing ahead with plans to stop purchasing Iranian oil, as of July 1.

Israeli officials — and senior military officers — say they abandoned hope, long ago, that the negotiations with Iran would bear fruit.   As indicated by President Peres, they want to highlight what they contend is an unquestioned fact: that while the talks continue, so does the uranium enrichment at hardened, often secret sites in Iran.

Peres tells CNN’s Labott that the military threat against Iran has to be credible, for if the Iranians think it just a bluff, then that may lead to war.  He plainly has not given up on the persuasive power of sanctions, because he tells CNN that sanctions also have to be credible.

The veteran politician, in this brief interview, seems much more tired than he appeared in Washington last week, when he plainly enjoyed receiving the high honor of America’s Medal of Freedom from President Barack Obama.

I was interested enough in Peres’s opinion and analysis to correct the official CNN transcript by listening a little more carefully.  With the P5+1 talks with Iran underway, Labott wondered how much more time is available to reach a negotiated, diplomatic solution to the vexing issue of Iran’s nuclear program:

PERES: “I think time is out, because they continue to build the bomb.  See, it is not a pause. They continue to do things which are contrary to the UN resolutions, to the atomic center in Geneva [probably meaning the IAEA in Vienna.] They build, they provoke.  They say okay we stop, and maybe the West would have a problem.  They don’t! They continue to enrich the uranium.  So you cannot provoke the world, assuming the world is made of fools only.”

LABOTT: So time is out, you’re saying.  This is it?

PERES: “I think time is beginning to be out, yes.”



June 19, 2012

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