Daily Israel Report

Peres: Rouhani Presents 'A Chance'

Israeli President departs from Prime Minister's position on Iranian President; addresses Israeli "nuclear ambiguity."
By Arutz Sheva
First Publish: 10/21/2013, 10:15 PM

President Shimon Peres
President Shimon Peres
Flash 90

President Shimon Peres has said he sees Iran's new president Hassan Rouhani as representing a "chance" to diffuse the standoff between Iran and the international community over the former's nuclear program.

Peres' remarks stand in contrast with Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's insistence that the Iranian president was a "wolf in sheep's clothing". 

"Its a chance, undecided yet," Peres, whose role is largely ceremonial, told the France 24 television network.    

Peres also appeared to challenge the view that Iran's foreign policy - as with all other government policies - were ultimately decided by one man, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khameini.

 "Apparently there are differences within Iran (over its nuclear program) who is going to win I don't know," he mused.

During the interview, Peres - himself considered the father of Israel's nuclear program - explained the longstanding Israeli policy of "nuclear ambiguity".

Foreign experts say Israel has at least 100 nuclear warheads, but the Jewish state - which has not signed up to the Non-Proliferation Treaty - has never confirmed nor denied this.    

Peres is considered the main architect of the Israeli nuclear program, launched in close cooperation with France in the late 1950s.

The Israeli President explained that Israel's ambiguity on its own nuclear capabilities is part of a strategy of deterrence against its enemies.    

"It depends why you want nuclear weapons. For me a nuclear option was an instrument to lead to peace, not to attack," said the Israeli president.    

"It was a deterrence that had nothing to do with reality whether we have it or not.    

"Fantasy plays an extremely great role to increase the deterrence, so it is ambiguous, yes. Why should I clarify?" he asked.