PM: International front has been formed against the Iranian threat

By Haaretz Service

Haaretz

Shvat 5, 5767

An international front has been created to fight the Iranian threat, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert told delegates to the Herzliya Conference on Wednesday.

Olmert focused his address at the conference on a report detailing the state of the Iranian threat. The prime minister emphasized that Israel has been following Iran's efforts to achieve nuclear capability for years.

"For many long years, we have followed Iran's efforts to acquire nuclear weapons, in the guise of a civilian nuclear program. They are working through secret channels in a number of sites spread out across Iran," he said. "In the past few years, we have been witness to especially intense Iranian activity on two tracks - the overt and the covert."

The prime minister said that the Iranian threat was evident in the financial, military and intelligence aid Tehran granted Palestinian terror groups, both directly and through Syria. Olmert said the threat was also manifested in Iranian support of Iraqi terror groups and the Hezbollah.

"This activity has created an opposing front, which includes, in varying intensities, all the permanent members of the UN Security Council; Arab states such as Saudi Arabia, the Gulf States, Egypt and Jordan; and other key countries in the West, such as Germany and Japan," he said.

"This front is acting to unite forces and prevent this threat from becoming a reality," Olmert added.

The prime minister lauded the decision of the United Nations Security Council to impose sanctions on Iran, adding that at both at the "political level and the professional level" Israel's efforts contributed greatly to the result."

He said that Israel, as well as the international community, would prefer to see the standoff worked out on a diplomatic level. Still, he warned against "turning a blind eye now, while ignoring reality, dragging one's feet, and attempting to reach dangerous compromises while avoiding taking clear steps."

Unless clear steps are taken, he said, "those of us who wish to prevent Iran from becoming a nuclear power will, down the road, not be left with any choice but to take much more severe steps in the future."

Olmert said that while the fight against the Iranian threat was at the top of Israel's agenda, "Israel is not spearheading the struggle against the Iranian threat."

"This threat must be dealt with seriously and responsibly, first and foremost by the major powers and by other key nations," he said, adding, "We are at the forefront of the fight to place this issue on the top of the agendas of world leaders and international public opinion. It is our duty to point out the dangers and help in finding solutions."