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September 24, 2013 7:36 am

On Eve of Rouhani UN Speech Israeli Intelligence Minister Steinitz Lays Down Jewish State’s Conditions (INTERVIEW)

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Israeli minister Yuval Steinitz at the 2012 Innovate. Invest. Israel. Conference. Photo: Israel's Ministry of Finance.

In an interview with The Algemeiner on the eve of Iranian President Rouhani’s widely anticipated speech to the United Nations General Assembly Tuesday, Israeli Minister of Intelligence, International Relations and Strategic affairs, Yuval Steinitz, was clear about what his country would like to hear from the newly elected leader of the Islamic Republic.

Beyond the hopeful claims of many that the Iranian leader is more moderate than his predecessor Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Steinitz said the world should judge Rouhani as Israel will, based on hard facts about the country’s nuclear program.

“I will tell you what would be a serious speech,” he said, “The rhetoric will be different, that we know, but rhetoric is far from being enough or sufficient. Let’s wait and see if there will be something different in the substance.”

“I will say that there is a real change in the Iranian attitude on the nuclear issue if Rouhani tomorrow will make one of the following declarations or better, all of them,” he continued. “Either that he will stop enrichment totally, or that he will shift the already enriched material from 3% and beyond outside Iran, or that he will dismantle (the nuclear facility near) Qom and stop the building of (the heavy water reactor in) Arak. If he will do this or at least declare that Iran is going to do at least one of these immediately, this is a different attitude.”

“If he will avoid any such declaration then it is just a show, it’s just rhetoric, but no substantial change,” he added.

The minister’s comments come in the wake of a flurry of conciliatory declarations from Iranian leaders, aimed at assuaging Western concerns over the country’s nuclear program. The gestures, which included a later denied Rosh Hashana greeting to Jews, have led to reports that U.S. President Obama is considering meeting with Rouhani on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly.

The Los Angeles Times reported that Western diplomats predict that Rouhani’s speech Tuesday at the U.N. General Assembly will include an important gesture, perhaps an acknowledgment of the Holocaust.

Hinting at what Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu might focus on during his own scheduled speech at the UN on October 1st, Steinitz said, “I don’t wan’t to say what he is going to say, although I was involved in all the preparations, but let me put it like this in my own words.”

“The rhetoric has changed by Rouhani, but with the facts on the ground, which do matter, there is no change at all so far. Rouhani was elected four months ago. The centrifuges are still spinning, not one centrifuge was stopped. On the contrary, since he was elected, the Iranians installed many new centrifuges, many of them new generation and more efficient,” he said.

Steinitz also indicated that Israel would like to see change from Iran on humanitarian issues as well as on the nuclear issue.”(Rouhani) spoke in his interview on NBC about Iran’s desire for peace and (he said that) Iran doesn’t seek any war or conflict with any other state.”

“If, for example, he will announce tomorrow that Iran will stop any military support for (the regime of Syrian leader) Assad, who is killing his own people, his own civilians in Syria, one can then say – it has nothing to do with the nuclear project – but this is a different attitude from Iran. If he will announce from now on ‘we won’t hang, we won’t execute and we won’t persecute homosexuals in Iran,’ you know this is a substantial change,” he said.

Stressing the absolute centrality with which Israel views the issue of Iranian nuclear belligerency Steinitz said that a nuclear Iran would be “a global game changer.”

“Iran intends to develop nuclear weapons and this is going to change the course of history,” he said. “If Iran will go nuclear its going to create a dangerous new world, not just for Israel and the Middle East, but also for Europe and the United States of America.”

Although Iran claims that its nuclear program is intended for peaceful use, Steinitz dismissed the claim emphatically. “People might ask (of Iran), why do you need so many centrifuges? You have so much oil and gas, you don’t need energy, and you have very cheap energy. You and Saudi Arabia are the last two countries that need nuclear energy.”

Comparing the situation with Iran to North Korea, and borrowing a theme likely to be used by Netanyahu, according to reports, Steinitz said that “Rouhani, clearly wants to talk. You know what I will tell you honestly, he wants even an agreement, but what kind of agreement? One should ask himself, an agreement like the one which was achieved six years ago with North Korea?”

“The world should not repeat the mistake of the past. What happened with North Korea was bad enough,” he said referring to the February 2007 U.S. agreement with North Korea under which Pyongyang agreed to close down its nuclear plant in exchange for a resumption of shipments of free oil. “There was an agreement, the world celebrated this agreement even Israel praised this agreement achieved by the United States six years ago, and look what happened.”

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  • Yankef

    Venezuela, as well as all other nations in the Western Hemisphere, should have the right to prepare for defense against the US, which has the LARGEST supply of WMD in the world. And they will get them too, because there is so much of this ignorant logic floating around, as if all nutcases are created equal. Its just not fair that only the smart people and the good people have all the power. Let the ignorant maniacs also have power.

  • Amy

    Iran, as well as any other Middle East nation, should have the right to prepare for defense against attack by Israel, who has the 4th largest supply of weapons for mass destruction, or against any other nation.
    The words of George Washington said to insure Peace be prepared for defense against attack from any nation.

  • A compromise should be expected from both sides, yes? Hypocrisy is hypocrisy. I have been following the news from all sides and it seems we have become the bullies that were also in both Hitlers and Stalin’s cabinets. As a child i always felt that if you once experienced something horrific you would not wish it on others. The opposite is true.

  • Yankef

    I would not want even the Shah of Iran to have an atomic bomb, although he was friendly with Israel, let alone these cave-dwellers. Neither should The US, Russia, or any other country in a responsible position. The position of the US, is the one of the Democratic party, which is criminally naive. There is such a thing.

  • E benAbuya

    Rouhani shmoohani. What part of “Supreme Leader Ayatolla Khameni” whose theology revolves around the cataclysmic eschatology of the Mahdi don’t people get?

    • Lots. Many people haven’t heard of the Mahdi or if they have they equate him with Jesus, with no other contextual info. Most people have no idea.

  • Umana Yana

    I want to hear from the President of Iran that his country would stop persecute and kill the Baha’is of Iran.

  • shloime

    rohani’s objective is to stop the sanctions, not iran’s nuclear programme. this has been clear since the day he was acclaimed president.

    and to do that, he’s even willing to admit that the holocaust happened! will wonders never cease…

    a scorpion is a scorpion (as in the arab fable of the frog and the scorpion) but why is obama doing everything he can to protect the iranians?

  • Alon

    acta – non verba

  • Vivienne Leijonhufvud

    Right now, presently Iran has expansionist goals! Iran is run by religio/political leaders, this is the leadership one is assuming Iran wants, since the last election was according to press a bona-fide election? Russia has a huge Islamic population and borders Iran? Assuming Iran goes nuclear who then will hold the balances of Power? Iran and her fellow Oil producing Islamic nations vs Russia and the West? Iran vs China border, (China has no Oil producing ability though China has 1.5 billion. Iran small with nuclear capacity, Oil/Gas plus alliance of all other Arab Oil producing Nations? Russia alone with huge Islamic community? US & Israel whose real positions now are unclear. Can Russia and China between them enforce their fears/will on Iran? Does Iran really need to worry about the rest of the world? Bottom line how powerful is Islam world wide, with Iran as her leader?

  • brian ellman

    We in the United States need to stop apologizing to the Muslim world
    It is apparent and clear that the two civilizations remain on a constant collision course bolstered by the intense desire of the Mullahs to enforce Shariah
    We should not be fooled by Rouhani—he is not the decision maker —-Khameni is —and it is difficult to believe that he has had an epiphany and has turned from a hater of the west and the state of Israel into a benign character

  • sootys mum

    Sorry, not the UN Watch but UANI!

  • sootys mum

    This is Taqiyya and anything that Rouhani says should be totally discounted. I cannot see Iran not continuing their nuclear armament programme and the threat to Israel lifted.

    The UN Watch has managed to stop many companies supplying Iran and many sanctions have been applied but nothing changes nor will it.