Barak: We Cannot Come Off 'Wimpy' on Iran

Sanctions remain the key to halting Iran's nuclear program, DM Barak said Thursday - but Israel was considering what comes next.

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David Lev,

Ehud Barak
Ehud Barak
Defense Ministry Photo

In an interview Thursday morning, Defense Minister Ehud Barak sounded somewhat more pessimistic on the likelihood that the international community could stop Iran's nuclear program with sanctions than he did in an interview on American TV a day earlier. Speaking on Israel Radio, Barak said that although Israel was trying to convince members of the international community to economically isolate Iran, he did not think that effort would work. Despite his pessimism, he said, Israel needed to continue working through diplomatic channels – and avoid the alternative.

On Wednesday, Barak had told American interviewer Charlie Rose that it was in the international community's interests to stop Iran's nuclear program, because if Iran acquired “the bomb” it would prompt a major arms race in the Middle East, with Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states pursuing their own nuclear programs. And, he said, if the international community did push Iran, he believed they could convince Tehran of the wisdom of backing down.

Despite his preference for sanctions, Barak reiterated that “all options are on the table. I was the first to coin this phrase, and I am happy to know that nowadays we are hearing it from leaders in the West.” Barak said that Israel could not come across as being afraid to take on Iran militarily. “We must make clear to the world that we understand the situation and are ready to deal with it, and that this is a challenge not just for us, but for the whole world.”

Barak added that he had met recently with foreign ministers from around the world in order to emphasize the importance of dealing with the issue and using sanctions to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon.