'All options' open on Iran, says Peres hours before Netanyahu-Obama meeting
During a visit to The Hague, Israel's president says economic sanctions may have impact but threat of force could be necessary.
Speaking at The Hague, Peres said the economic sanctions against Iran now have not dissuaded the country from enriching uranium or building long-range missiles, although it may have affected Tehran's public statements. He added it would be better if sanctions did stop Iran from being "a center of terror, but all options are otherwise being kept."
"The Syrians were forced this time by an agreement between the United States and Russia to give up their chemical arsenal," he said. "They didn't do it before the world threatened them with the military option."
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is slated to meet with U.S. President Barack Obama at the White House Monday. At the meeting, Netanyahu is expected to ask that international sanctions on Iran not be lifted.
Peres spoke at the Peace Palace in The Hague after meeting with judges at the International Court of Justice, sometimes called the World Court, on Monday. The ICJ ruled in 2004 in a nonbinding advisory opinion that Israel's security barrier violated international law. Israel rejected the opinion.
Asked whether Israel would be willing to join the Organization for the Prohibition for Chemical Weapons as Syria is now doing, Peres said his government "will consider" it.
Israel has signed but not ratified the Chemical Weapons Convention, which forbids the production, stockpiling or use of chemical weapons and automatically leads to membership in the OPCW.
After Syria's agreement last week to join the organization, only Israel, Egypt, North Korea, Burma, Angola and South Sudan are not members.
On Friday, the UN Security Council ordered the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons to help Syria destroy its chemical weapons by mid-2014. Inspectors from the OPCW were leaving the Netherlands on Monday for Syria to begin the process.
Asked what he thought of the speech by Iran's new President Hassan Rohani to the United Nations last week in which Rohani argued Iran's nuclear program is purely civilian, Peres told reporters it contradicted a speech the Iranian leader gave just two days earlier to Iran's Revolutionary Guard. In that, Rohani vowed to continue building long-range missiles.
Peres said those missiles could have no purpose other than to carry nuclear warheads, so the two speeches were contradictory. "I hope that the facts will justify the hopes of many that we will see a different Iran, but finally we can judge only by the acts and by the deeds," he said.
Netanyahu: I will speak the truth
A senior Israeli official, who is familiar with the details of preparations for the meeting between Netanyahu and Obama, said that while previous meetings between Netanyahu and Obama discussed a military option against Iran’s nuclear facilities, this time, with the diplomatic track gaining momentum, the conversation will focus on keeping up the pressure on the Iranian regime.
Netanyahu believes that the Western powers should leave in place the international sanctions, especially the European Union’s oil embargo and the sanctions on Iranian banks, which have devastated the Iranian economy.
Netanyahu is expected to tell Obama that until Iran meets all the conditions – a halt to uranium enrichment, removal of all the enriched material from the country, closure of the reactor at Fordo and stoppage of work at the heavy water reactor in Arak – the sanctions should not be lifted and should even be intensified.
Before leaving Israel, Netanyahu said he would present the truth to the United Nations amid a torrent of sweet-talking.
“I will present our rights as a nation, our determination to defend ourselves and our hopes for peace. I will speak the truth. Facts must be stated in the face of the sweet talk and the blitz of smiles,” he said.
Also on Monday, U.S. Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro said that the U.S. and Israel share a common goal of preventing Iran from developing a nuclear weapon.
In an interview with Israel Radio, Shapiro said that the U.S. and Israel "have the same main objectives, and our leaders agree on these objectives. The main objective of these is to thwart Iran's drive to nuclear weapons."
Shapiro said the intelligence cooperation between Israel and the U.S. is unprecedented and that the two countries share information regarding Iran's nuclear program.
"What is needed now is not just pretty words, but real steps – actions that may be verified – which could lead to a significant agreement," he said.
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