British and Israeli experts have disagreed over the “tactics” of stopping an Iranian nuclear bomb at an international conference on the strategic threats facing Israel.
Speaking at a Jewish News’ event at Westminster, Israeli minister Silvan Shalom said Iran was seeking to “revive the Persian empire” but British diplomats dismissed the assessment, saying simply that Iran was “playing a power game”.
Shalom said: “We don’t like the deal, it’s no secret. The Iranians are cheating, trying to buy time, and they are now very, very close to achieve their goal. What will happen then? You know the Saudis visited Russia just a few days ago to sigh an agreement to get civil nuclear power.”
On Israel’s disagreement with world powers on this issue, he said: “Obama stands with Israel in the most intimate and important way, but among friends, we may agree to disagree. We don’t like the parameters. We don’t like the freedom Iran will have. They want to revive the Persian empire.”
However, former British ambassador to Iran, Sir Richard Dalton, said: “We should put aside such exaggerations of Iran trying to revive the Persian empire. They are playing the power game, in the way that the US is.”
The veteran diplomat, who spent four years as Consul General in Jerusalem, said that the international context should be recognised. “A civil nuclear programme is legitimate,” he said. “It is a major nation, in terms of resources and power in the region. Iran demands respects, and to a degree, it is right to do so.”
Opposition leader Isaac Herzog said he was as one with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on this issue, saying: “We demand an enhanced inspection regime, 24/7 on all sites. The world should be tough, no ifs and buts. World safety is in jeopardy.”
He added: “Sanctions: should be lifted only on a quid pro quo basis. What happens if Iran violates the terms?”