The Bushehr nuclear power plant in southern I
The Bushehr nuclear power plant in southern IAFP/Mehr News/File

Speaking at the 2013 Herzliya Conference Wednesday, Italian Foreign Minister Giulio Terzi di Sant'Agata told a packed auditorium that even if Iran acted rationally with nuclear weapons, Tehran would still pose an unacceptable global threat. “Under its own nuclear umbrella, Teheran would be free to raise and lower the volume of regional tension as best suits its national interest,” di Sant'Agata said. “With a nuclear Iran, the rules of the Middle Eastern game would not only change overnight - they would change irreversibly.”

Iran was not just Israel's problem, the Foreign Minister said. “In the end, however 'regional' the trigger, a nuclear crisis will always have a global impact. Should Tehran acquire nuclear capabilities, others would follow and the Middle East - the very doorstep of Europe - would enter this new regional nuclear race.”

Addressing the ongoing bloodshed in Syria, di Sant'Agata told Herzliya Conference participants that “we can no longer afford delays in our action. No example is better than Syria to remind us that the Assad regime and its allies do not necessarily act under similar constraints. We are witnessing the emergence of fast-rising economic and military powers, in different regions, which pursue their interest with the power of a State and the flexibility of a non-state actor. These are decades of asymmetric diplomacy.”

The Italian Foreign Minister concluded by pointing to Israel as a regional stabilizer, stating that “Israel not only lies at their geographical center. It is also at their front line. As the dust settles, and room grows for new ideas, Israel will be the first and foremost engine of a new path towards a more secure and peaceful Middle East.”

The annual Herzliya Conference is the flagship event of the Institute of Policy and Strategy (IPS) at the Lauder School of Government of IDC Herzliya. The Herzliya Conference addresses Israel’s national agenda by encouraging public debate and influencing the country’s public policy planning. Generally held in February, the even this year was postponed in order to accommodate the Knesset elections.