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Yaalon to UN Chief: Easing Sanctions will Encourage Rouhani

Defense Minister tells UN chief that easing the sanctions on Iran at this point in time would hurt the efforts to stop its nuclear program.
By Elad Benari
First Publish: 10/8/2013, 4:46 AM

Yaalon meets UN Secretary General
Yaalon meets UN Secretary General
Ariel Hermoni/Ministry of Defense

Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon told United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on Monday that easing the sanctions on Iran at this point in time would hurt the efforts to stop its nuclear program.

Yaalon, who is in the United States for a working visit, met with Ban at the UN headquarters in New York.

"We do not oppose a diplomatic solution to the Iranian nuclear issue, but the goal should be clear: Iran must not have nuclear weapons,” Yaalon told Ban.

“We are witnesses to an offensive of smiles and charm by [Iranian president] Rouhani, initiated and orchestrated by [Supreme leader Ali] Khamenei. It will be impossible to achieve the goal if the sanctions are eased now,” he added.

Ya'alon added that easing the sanctions on the Islamic Republic now “will cause Rouhani to improve the economic situation on the one hand but not to stop the nuclear program on the other hand. The Iranians want to continue enrichment to ultimately produce a bomb. This is what we are warning against. The sanctions should continue until the Iranians understand that there is no way to avoid the decision to stop their pursuit of nuclear weapons.”

Since being elected in June, Rouhani has urged the world to seize the opportunity of his election to resolve the nuclear dispute. He has also said that Tehran would not give up "one iota" of its nuclear rights.

Israel has warned that Rouhani is a wolf in sheep’s clothing and would continue to enrich uranium while making moderate statements to the world.

During his meeting with Ban, Yaalon also referred to the efforts to rid Syria of its chemical weapons arsenal. On Sunday, experts destroyed missile warheads, aerial bombs and chemical mixing equipment on the first day of the campaign.

"We appreciate the UN’s operations in the region, particularly in Syria,” Yaalon told the UN chief, adding, “Assad realized that he needs to get rid of these weapons in order to survive, but we must wait for the results and make sure that he is not hiding some of the arsenal.”