Cheney: All options on the table vis-a-vis Iran

By Shmuel Rosner and Associated Press

Haaretz

Adar 7, 5766

WASHINGTON - Vice President Dick Cheney said Tuesday that Iran will not be allowed to have a nuclear weapon and warned "the United States is keeping all options on the table in addressing the irresponsible conduct of the regime." Cheney said the Iranian government "continues to defy the world with its nuclear ambitions" and that the issue may soon go before the UN Security Council.

"The Iranian regime needs to know that if it stays on its present course, the international community is prepared to impose meaningful consequences," Cheney said in a speech to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, an influential pro-Israel lobbying group.

Cheney also said American support for Israel is unshakable and that Israeli security is an American strategic interest.

Addressing the new Hamas-led Palestinian parliament, Cheney said the Islamic group must abandon terrorism and dismantle the Palestinian terrorist infrastructure.

Cheney said that if Hamas desires assistance from the U.S. and the world, the way is clear: The Palestinian government must recognize Israel's right to exist.

Cheney spoke on the last morning of the AIPAC conference. He joined every other speaker expressing condemnation of Hamas and support for Israel.

After addressing AIPAC, Cheney headed to Capital Hill to assist in pushing through legislation against the Palestinian Authority.

Conference attendees also heard televised speeches by Likud leader Benjamin Netanyah, Labor Party Chairman Amir Peretz and Kadima leader Acting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.

Cheney spoke as diplomats at an International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna, Austria, were considering whether to refer Iran to the UN Security Council for possible sanctions. The United States believes Iran is trying to build nuclear weapons; Iran says its nuclear program is for generating electricity.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov was in Washington Tuesday to discuss Iran with President George W. Bush and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. Cheney said the United States joins "other nations in sending that regime a clear message: we will not allow Iran to have a nuclear weapon."

He denounced Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad for calling for Israel's destruction and denying that the Nazi Holocaust of Jews took place. He said he supports the "the democratic aspirations of the people of Iran" and said "Iranians have endured a generation of repression at the hands of a fanatical regime. That regime is one of the world's primary state sponsor of terror."