OCCUPIED JERUSALEM — Further exposing a rift between Israel and the US, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak said Tuesday his country never promised Washington it would hold off from attacking Iran while nuclear talks were taking place.
Barak said that a diplomatic push to reach a compromise with Iran was a waste of “precious time”, arguing that a nuclear Iran would pose an existential threat. Israel has said it will not allow Tehran to acquire a nuclear weapon. It cites Iranian calls for Israel’s destruction, Iran’s support for militant groups and its development of long-range missiles capable of striking the Jewish state.
Fearing that Iran is moving quickly toward nuclear capability, Israel has repeatedly threatened to attack if the country’s uranium enrichment program continues to advance. Enrichment is a key process in developing weapons, and Israel says Iran is closely approaching a point where it can no longer be stopped.
The US favors diplomacy and economic sanctions, and has said military action on Iran’s nuclear facilities should only be a last resort if all else fails.
Officials from the United States, Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany met with Iran in Istanbul last weekend to discuss the country’s nuclear program. The talks were described as positive, and they agreed to meet again on May 23 in Baghdad.
Barak told Israel’s Army Radio he did not believe the talks would prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon. “We regret the time being lost. This is precious time,” he said. — AP