WASHINGTON - Defense Minister Ehud Barak expressed on Wednesday night his concern that negotiations between Iran and the Western powers will result in agreements that will allow Tehran to deceive the world and advance its nuclear program.
In an interview with CNN, Barak said that Israel is concerned that Iran would not be contained, adding that Jerusalem trusts the US to set the bar that will prevent Iran from achieving military nuclear capabilities.
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In Washington DC for a meeting with Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta and other officials, Barak placed an emphasis on the international community combining forces in an effort to foil Iran's nuclear progress.
"It's about a real challenge to the whole world, not just Israel. I think a nuclear Iran will change the whole landscape of the Middle East. We have to do something to block it from happening," Barak said.
Barak and Panetta (Photo: AFP)
Barak further said that Israel had not ruled out a military operation against Iran's nuclear facilities. "The real challenge now is the negotiations with Iran," said the minister, but emphasized that Israel reserves the right to defend itself against Iran.
Nuclear talks between Iran and the six world powers are scheduled to take place on May 23 in Baghdad.
In the interview, Barak noted that "Israel strongly believes and relies on the US and the other members of the P5 plus 1, and expects them to set the bar at a place where it will block Iran from turning military nuclear."
"There is a need to stop enriching uranium, to 20 percent, or even 3.5 percent," said Israel's defense minister. "To take all the enriched uranium out of the country," he clarified.
During his trip to the US, Barak also plans to meet with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and National Security Advisor in the Obama Administration, Tom Donilon.
Barak is scheduled to meet with Panetta at the Pentagon on Thursday in order to finalize a deal in which the United States will provide an additional $680 million to Israel over three years. The money is meant to help pay for procuring three or four new batteries and interceptors for Israel’s Iron Dome short-range rocket defense program and other missile defense systems.
The Iron Dome funds, already in legislation before Congress, will be on top of the $3.1 billion in military aid grants being provided to Israel in 2013.
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