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December 9, 2013 10:38 am

Netanyahu: Iran’s Pursuit of Nuclear Weapons Greatest Threat to Peaceful, Stable Middle East

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Guatemalan President Otto Fernando Perez Molina (left) meeting Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, on the country's first official visit to the Jewish state, on December 9, 2013. Photo: GPO.

Guatemalan President Otto Fernando Perez Molina (left) meeting Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, on the country's first official visit to the Jewish state, on December 9, 2013. Photo: GPO.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday began an official meeting with Guatemalan President Otto Fernando Perez Molina by using the opportunity to address the Iranian nuclear issue, which he qualified as the “greatest threat” to a peaceful and stable Middle East.

Netanyahu said, “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. 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.”

“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.”

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Directly addressing Guatemalan president Perez Molina, Netanyahu said, “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 also recognized the historical connections between Guatemala and the Jewish state: “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.”

President Molina acknowledged that his was the first official visit of Guatemala in Israel. “There are excellent relations between both our countries and between the people of Israel and the people of Guatemala and as you said as well, Guatemala did participate in the foundation of Israel, so that has led the foundations for a tradition and the unity between our two peoples,” he said.

“There’s also a tradition for cooperation,” Perez Molina said. “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 said, “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.”

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