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October 1, 2013 6:43 pm

Israel’s Deputy Defense Minister: Jewish State Will Know if Rouhani is Serious Within ‘Weeks’ (INTERVIEW)

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Israeli officials during Prime Minister Netanyahu's speech at the United Nations.

Israel’s Deputy Defense Minister, Danny Danon, said that it won’t take Israel long to determine whether Western talks with Iranian President Rouhani will yield a breakthrough in the international standoff over Iran’s nuclear program. His remarks were made in an interview with The Algemeiner hours after Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu addressed the United Nations General Assembly.

“I think it will only be a number of weeks and we will know whether he only means to talk, or to take action,” Danon said, when asked if he thought that the sweet-talking new Iranian leader brought any substantive change to Iran’s position on its nuclear ambitions.

On the Islamic Republic’s nuclear program, Danon said that Israel is “not in the position to gamble […] If it will be for peace purposes or for other purposes, we are not in a position to wait and see.”

But if it came down to it, the Israeli Defense Ministry official said unequivocally, Israel will do what it takes to defend itself.

“We have the capabilities to face all challenges in the region, and when I say challenges, I mean short range and long range as well,” he said.

Asked if Israel feared Iran’s response to any action that Israel might take, Danon said, “There are always concerns, but we live in a tough neighborhood where we need tough decisions.”

“We are capable of dealing with all the threats, and the consequences,” he added.

Often a harsh critic of his Prime Minister, Danon said that Israel’s politicians were largely united on the issue of Iran. “On the issue of Iran I think we all have the same opinion, that we will do whatever it takes to defend ourselves, and that we will keep all options on the table.”

Praising Netanyahu, the deputy minister said he thought that he represented Israel well in the speech. “I think he delivered a very impressive presentation, stressing the point that we cannot be naïve when we deal with Iran.”

“The real issue” for Netanyahu, he said, was “to expose the face of Rouhani.”

“I think the main point was that we (Israel) keep the military option on the table, which means if we have to do it (address the issue of Iran’s nuclear program) ourselves we will take responsibility ourselves,” he said.

During his UN remarks earlier Tuesday Israel’s prime minister warned the world not to fall prey to the recent “charm offensive” of Iran’s new President, and added that if it did, Israel would “stand alone and know that we will be defending many, many others,” who could be victims of a nuclear-armed Iran.

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