Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said on Monday that Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons is the greatest threat to a peaceful Middle East.
Speaking with visiting Guatemalan President Otto Fernando Perez Molina, Netanyahu reiterated his stance that a final nuclear deal with Iran should include the complete dismantling of its nuclear program.
“We share a desire to see a peaceful and stable Middle East, and the greatest threat to that and to the peace of the world is Iran's pursuit of nuclear weapons,” he told Molina.
“It's therefore critical that the final deal with Iran prevent that from happening. Here's what this means: no enrichment, no centrifuges, no heavy water reactor, no weapons program, no ballistic missiles and a change in Iran's policies – no genocide against Israel, no terrorist support, no undermining of regimes in the Middle East.”
“This is what the next negotiation must establish,” stressed Netanyahu. “None of the components of Iran's nuclear program and missile program that I described are necessary for civilian nuclear energy. They are only necessary for the creation of atomic weapons and the means to deliver them, and that is exactly why Iran must be denied these capabilities.”
He added, “I believe, Mr. President, that this is a common need of any country in any region that wants to see a peaceful world, because Iran is seeking influence even in Latin America, and we all have a vested interest that they don’t have the power to expand their aggression and their radicalism anywhere.”
Netanyahu welcomed Molina to Israel, saying, “Guatemala is one of Israel's oldest friends and we always remember that you stood with us on the formative days of Israel's independence and the votes on the international recognition in the UN for the establishment of the Jewish state, and we will never forget that.”
“Now, this is the first time of a visit of the President of Guatemala to Israel and it's an opportunity to further strengthen our relationship and I believe this is possible in many many areas – agriculture, water, infrastructure, health services, defense, all of this and many others – and I welcome the opportunity of this visit and our discussions to do exactly that, strengthen the cooperation between Guatemala and Israel, and I believe your visit expresses exactly that same desire,” he told Molina.
President Molina thanked Netanyahu for his welcome and added, “There are more than 5,000 Guatemalans who have come to Israel to learn new techniques and acquire new skills, and that has helped us very much. And regarding also what you said about cooperation, the areas that you mentioned, that is health, education, agriculture and defense, I'm sure that there are even more areas that we can explore and exploit, so that Guatemala can continue to enjoy the cooperation with Israel.”
He added, “We are friends of Israel. Both our people and our government wish for you to have peace, for Israel and for the whole region, as well as stability, and we are also concerned by the threats that may undermine the security of the area. We are also convinced that the steps that you have taken as Prime Minister for peace are going in the right direction and we hope that it will continue to do so.”
“It is a tradition for Guatemala, we have always been in favor of non-proliferation of nuclear weapons, both in Latin America as well as in the rest of the world, and we hope that this concern that we can see today, which is a great threat to the State of Israel, will find a resolution as soon as possible,” said Molina.
Netanyahu has repeatedly said that the agreement that was signed with Iran is dangerous and will allow Tehran to continue its nuclear program and give nothing back to the West while being rewarded with sanctions relief.
This position has placed the Netanyahu at odds with the administration in the United States, to the point where President Barack Obama reportedly told him to “take a breather” from his criticism and shift attention to the terms of the final deal still under negotiation.
Obama sought to respond to Netanyahu during his talk at the Saban Forum on Saturday, where he said that the best way to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon is “through a comprehensive, verifiable, diplomatic resolution," but stressed that all options remained on the table.