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Yaalon Doubtful Iran's New President Will Bring Change

"Ultimately, Khamenei makes all the decisions," Yaalon tells France's Foreign and Defense Ministers.
By Elad Benari
First Publish: 6/18/2013, 12:12 AM

Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon with French ministers
Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon with French ministers
Ariel Hermoni

Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon was doubtful on Monday that Iran’s new president will bring any change in that country’s nuclear aspirations.

Speaking during a meeting in France with the country’s Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius and Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, Yaalon said, "There is no doubt that the Iranian people want to see change, but I'm not sure Rowhani, who is an Ayatollah, will bring the change that the Iranian people expect to receive.”

Ultimately, Yaalon told the two French ministers, “the one who makes decisions is Supreme Leader Khamenei, and therefore the Iranian nuclear program must be stopped one way or another. The Iranians feel they can advance their nuclear program without paying a price, and therefore cannot be allowed to escape from making a decision. Only a combination of pressure - sanctions, diplomatic isolation and a viable military option - can bring progress through the diplomatic channel.”

The Israeli Defense Minister noted that so far the Iranian nuclear project “not only has not stopped, but is progressing. The mere fact that the Iranian regime and Hizbullah are helping [Syrian President Bashar] Assad is a threat to our interests and to those of the West. The Syrian issue is a global issue.”

On Sunday, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu warned the world not to be deceived by the leader’s “moderate” credentials.

“We are not deluding ourselves,” the prime minister said. “We need to remember that the Iranian ruler at the outset disqualified candidates who were not in line with his extreme world view, and from among those whom he did allow, the one seen as least identified with the regime was elected. But we are still speaking about someone who calls Israel the 'great Zionist Satan.'”

The White House said on Sunday that Iran's new president will find a partner in the United States if he comes clean on the Islamic Republic's controversial nuclear program.

Yaalon also addressed the negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority and told the two French ministers, “Our policy is clear: We are ready to sit down with them immediately without preconditions, but [PA Chairman Mahmoud] Abbas makes that difficult.”

Yaalon also said, “We appreciate the excellent relations between France and Israel and the close relationship between our governments, your position on the Iranian issue and your support for the demand to include Hizbullah on the European Union’s list of terrorist organizations.”