"A nuclear Iran would speed up a regional nuclear arms race that would include Egypt, Turkey and Saudi Arabia," Defense Minister Ehud Barak said Thursday evening during an annual event held at the Air Force House in Herzliya in honor of Independence Day.
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During the reception, which was attended by senior security establishment officials, Barak said a "nuclear, Islamist Iran would act aggressively while using terror groups in the region.
Barak (L) with Vilnai at Thursday's event (Photo: Moti Kimchi)
"Dealing with Iran's determination is not devoid of risks and complexities, but dealing with (a nuclear Iran) would be much more dangerous and costly," he said. "This is the time for the world to prepare to stop Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons."
The defense minister said the chances that the current amount of pressure applied on Tehran would cause it to halt its nuclear program are slim. "A British diplomat who served in Tehran for many years said (the Iranians) do not say what they think and do not do what they say. The Iranians are determined to deceive the world and obtain nuclear weapons.
"The Iranian leadership's fear of an American, Israeli or international military operation is restraining it," he said.
For Israel, Barak noted, curbing Iran's nuclear aspirations "is a complicated challenge that we do not have the luxury of ignoring. The American administration is supporting Israel's security-related needs, and it is well-aware that Israel – due to its location and the threats it is facing – evaluates the Iranian issue differently. Israel's clock is ticking faster.
"The American administration acknowledges Israel's right to defend itself. Israel will continue to be a regional force, from Tripoli to Tehran, including Tehran. There is no room for panic or hysteria, but not for immobility either," the defense minister said.