Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Barak Urges U.S. to Focus on Iran Nuclear Threat

From Bloomberg.com, Nov. 20, by Gwen Ackerman and Calev Ben-David:

Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak said the U.S. and Europe should put aside differences with China and Russia over human-rights and missile-defense issues to focus on working together to stop Iran from developing nuclear weapons.

"The triad of nuclear proliferation, radical Muslim terror, and rogue states, epitomized in the Iran case, can be defeated only through a paradigm shift in international relationships,'' Barak said in an interview at the Defense Ministry in Tel Aviv late yesterday.

Barak said criticism of Russia's actions in Chechnya and China's human-rights record are hurting efforts to put up a united front against Iran. He also said that U.S. plans to deploy a missile-defense system in eastern Europe -- which the Americans say is aimed at countering Iran and which Moscow perceives as a threat -- also aren't helpful. "The other issues are not as urgent,'' he said.

..."The time for sanctions is still there, but it is short,'' said Barak, 66, who heads Israel's Labor Party and is the country's former prime minister. "The way I see to make it effective is to cut through the psychological obstacles about cooperating with Russia and China and open a new discourse.''

...Gerald Steinberg, chairman of Bar Ilan University's political science department in Ramat Gan, said Barak's comment tying the lack of progress on confronting Iran to the West's disagreements with China and Russia is noteworthy.

"...This is aligning Israeli policy, or at least Barak's policy, with the recognition that Barack Obama is coming into office.''

U.S. President-elect Obama, who will take office on Jan. 20, said during his campaign that he would seek more cooperation from Russia and China to make the sanctions against Iran effective. Barak said he has expressed his views about Iran to Obama and President George W. Bush....
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