The Edmond Sun

March 1, 2014

Israeli ambassador cautions against trusting Iran

James Coburn
The Edmond Sun

EDMOND — The confrontation over Iran’s nuclear program continues as negotiations among Iran and six world powers continue in Vienna.

As sanctions played a key role in bringing the Iranians to the table, the Israeli government does not consider Iran a nation that can be trusted, said Ambassador Meir Shlomo, Consul General of Israel to the Southwest.

“The Iranian regime cannot be trusted for anything,” Shlomo said.

Shlomo paid a visit to The Edmond Sun this week to discuss Iran’s role in the nuclear age. The ambassador was in Edmond to see the Haifa Symphony Orchestra perform at Armstrong Auditorium on Thursday.

Talks with Iran include the European Union and five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council including the United States, Britain, France, Russia and China.

“The general logic that I think is adopted by everybody while negotiating with Iran is distrust and verify,” Shlomo said. “Not trust and verify but distrust and verify.”

This logic is good only if the nuclear agreement with Iran achieves security, he said. Unfortunately, the agreement is flawed, he said. There are things the agreement should address.

“First of all, we should dismantle all the centrifuges that are now capable of enriching uranium,” Shlomo said. Also, all uranium should be extracted from Iran.

Iran has signed a United Nations treaty that forbids it to acquire nuclear weapons, he said.

“As long as they have centrifuges that are spinning, they will enrich uranium,” Shlomo said.

Iran has a heavy water reactor, which they started a few years ago. This reactor is producing plutonium.

“That’s the third thing we must address — to shut down this reactor,” Shlomo said.

There is a difference between whether Iran should have the capability to manufacture nuclear weapons and should they be capable of having nuclear weapons, said Congressman James Lankford, R-Edmond.

“Now there are some, even within the Obama administration, who believe the only problem is that they can have the capability but not the missiles to deliver them,” Lankford said. “Israel and many others, myself included, believe Iran cannot be trusted to manufacture them.”

People need to understand this is not just about Israel’s security interest in dealing with Iran, Lankford said.

“This is Iran and the rest of the world,” Lankford said. “Iran is one of the prime movers of terrorism worldwide.”

As Iran considers Israel to be a Satan, it considers the United States to be the great Satan, Lankford said.

Iran has a long-standing hatred toward Israel, Lankford said, and additionally, Iran has its hand in Venezuela, Cuba and among other dictators to promote instability for the West.

There are difficult dynamics for Israel to deal with every day. Israel’s bordering neighbors of Lebanon, Syria and Egypt are in tremendous turmoil, while Jordan is more stable, Lankford said.

Both Lankford and former state House Speaker T.W. Shannon have declared their 2014 candidacy for the U.S. Senate. Former state GOP Sen. Randy Brogdon is expected to announce for the seat Monday.

“Iran absolutely cannot be trusted with nuclear capabilities,” said Shannon, R-Lawton. “They are a major destabilizing force in the region, and the president is frankly wrong to negotiate with them on this issue. We must stand firmly in defense of the Nation of Israel, which means opposing Iranian nuclear capabilities and keeping all options on the table.”

President Obama said he would bring back the sanctions that they lifted if Iran does not agree to give up its nuclear ambitions, Shlomo said.

Shlomo said more sanctions should be placed on the Iranian regime. Only the sanctions posed on Iran drove them to negotiate, he said. More pressure is needed to make them capitulate, he said. | 341-2121