In little-noticed remarks last month, Israel's foreign minister declared that a war with Iran would "be a nightmare," drawing in countries from around the region and leaving "no one...unscathed."
During a diplomatic visit to China, Avigdor Lieberman told the Israeli daily Yedioth Ahronoth:
"If, God forbid, a war with Iran breaks out, it will be a nightmare. And we will all be in it, including the Persian Gulf countries and Saudi Arabia. No one will remain unscathed. We have to do everything we can to urge the international community to assume responsibility and take action to stop the Iranians … The State of Israel keeps all options open. However, we do believe that if we make the required effort and present a unified international front, we may yet talk the Iranians into giving up their nuclear aspirations … Let me make it clear: The right way to prevent [an all-out flare-up] is to present a solid unified front of the international community."
Portions of Lieberman's March 18 remarks were translated from Hebrew to English by the Israeli paper, but the quotes received virtually no coverage in U.S. news outlets. A columnist in Israel, Aviad Kleinberg, similarly noted that Lieberman's statement had been ignored by the Israeli media as well:
Who, do you think, has said these rational and sensible words? Try your guess. Was it Israeli opposition leader and head of the centrist, liberal Kadima party Tzipi Livni? Or could it rather have been longtime member of the rightist Likud party and Israeli Minister of Intelligence and Atomic Energy Dan Meridor? Or perhaps ex-Mossad chief Meir Dagan, who is known for his outspoken opposition to attacking Iran under the present circumstances?
Believe it or not, the statement was made by none other than the far-right leader of the ultra-nationalist Yisrael Beiteinu party, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman. And it was not in foreign ears that these words were said. Rather, Lieberman said them in an interview to the Israeli daily Yedioth Ahronoth Sunday, March 18, while on an official visit to China. True, his statement did not make it to the headlines, but it was published -- if not on the front page, then on page 6, next to the report on the sanctioned Iran banks being cut off from the international bank-transfer system SWIFT. Surprisingly enough, or maybe not quite so surprisingly, there has been no echo in the media of his unexpected statement.
Lieberman's statements about military action in Iran contrast starkly with those made by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak, who rarely discuss possible negative consequences of an attack. Indeed, Barak has proclaimed that an Israeli strike would not be prolonged nor would it risk mass casualties. "There's no chance in such a situation for 500,000 killed, not 5,000 or even 500 killed," he said last year.
On Monday, Israel's ambassador to the United Nations Ron Prosor said that the increasingly comprehensive sanctions regime on Iran is producing results. Foreign Policy reporter Colum Lynch reported:
[Prosor] credited international sanctions, particularly a set of financial measures imposed by the United States and the European Union, with exacting a steep enough price that it may force Tehran to change its behavior. Prosor cited a recent decision by the Belgium-based Society of World Wide Interbank Financial Telecommunications, or Swift, blocking dozens of Iranian firms from doing business as the latest evidence the sanctions are having an impact.
“I think the international community at this stage has really moved forward and have made at least clear to Tehran that there is a certain price tag for continuing” its pursuit of nuclear weapons, he said. “The decision on SWIFT, the issue of the sanctions by the EU, are important and have an effect on Iran…I do see really a movement on the international stage, especially on the economic side... It's much more effective than people think and it might change, hopefully it might change behavior patterns if we continue with it.”
BEFORE YOU GO
Photos: The Strait Of Hormuz
06/19/2012 9:05 AM EDT
Moscow talks make little progress.
MOSCOW — A top Russian official made a last-ditch effort to save talks over Iran's nuclear program from collapse Tuesday, holding a meeting with Iran's chief envoy.
But diplomats said the negotiations remained deadlocked as they went into a second and possibly final day, with the presidents of the United States and Russia urging Iran to agree to curb nuclear activities that could be turned toward arming warheads and Iran demanding a lifting of sanctions crippling its oil industry.
Read more on HuffPost World.
06/18/2012 12:09 PM EDT
Iran, West start nuclear talks.
MOSCOW, June 18 (Reuters) - World powers began two days of talks with Iran on Monday to try to end a decade-long stand-off over Tehran's nuclear programme and avert the threat of a new war in the Middle East.
In Iran, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Tehran would be prepared to stop enriching uranium to a higher level - a process that could be used to make nuclear arms - if the six powers agreed to meet its needs for the fuel. But it is not clear how much influence Ahmadinejad has over the negotiations and whether his remarks reflect Tehran's position in the talks.
Read the full article on HuffPost World.
06/13/2012 6:50 PM EDT
All proposals on the table.
TEHRAN, Iran -- Proposals from both Iran and the group of six world powers will be on the table for nuclear talks in Moscow next week, not just the West's demand to halt Iran's highest level uranium enrichment, Iran's top negotiator said Wednesday.
Read more on HuffPost World.
06/08/2012 10:20 AM EDT
New round of nuke talks.
VIENNA, June 8 (Reuters) - Iran and the United Nations nuclear watchdog began a new round of talks on Friday in an attempt to seal a deal to resume a long-stalled probe into suspected atomic weapon research in the Islamic state.
Read the full story on HuffPost World.
06/08/2012 7:33 AM EDT
Ahmadinejad: 'Iran won't build nuclear bomb.'
TEHRAN, Iran — Iran's president says Iran has no intention of building nuclear weapons, but fear would not deter it if it decided to make them.
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's comments suggest a toughening of Iran's position ahead of June 18-19 talks with world powers over Tehran's nuclear program.
The five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany want Iran to shut down its highest level uranium enrichment facilities. Ahmadinejad's remarks suggest Iran would refuse.
Ahmadinejad made the comments during a meeting with Afghan President Hamid Karzai on Thursday in China. His remarks were posted on his website.
The U.S. and its allies suspect Iran is seeking to develop nuclear weapons. Iran insists its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes like power generation and cancer treatment. (AP)
06/06/2012 12:03 PM EDT
Smuggling of epic proportions
The BBC reports that $20 billion worth of goods -- the equivalent of nearly 30 percent of the country’s annual official trade -- are smuggled into Iran's borders every year.
Watch the full story here.
06/03/2012 3:11 PM EDT
Clinton draws no conclusions
STOCKHOLM — U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton says she's not drawing any conclusions about what effect the latest hash words from Iran might have on the potential success of upcoming nuclear talks in Moscow.
05/31/2012 2:08 PM EDT
Iran's Forrest Gump.
Iranian-born Reza Baluchi is a regular Forrest Gump. Ten years ago he ran away from Iran. He’s run across the United States twice since then, once around its perimeter. Yet now he’s planning his biggest journey of all, CNN reports, a run around the world that will take him through his home country once more.
It started when he ran away from home at the age of eight. Later he ran away from his homeland, Iran, and spent seven years on a bicycle, pedaling 49,700 miles across 55 countries.
In 2002, he reached America. He now lives in a tent in Death Valley.
It's been nearly 10 years since Reza Baluchi escaped from Iran. He has run across the United States twice and around its perimeter once. He sets out on every journey with the same mission: to spread a message of world peace.
Read the full story here.
05/31/2012 2:01 PM EDT
Jackson Pollock painting returned.
After being seized by Iranian customs over a monetary dispute, a painting by Jackson Pollock has been returned to the Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art in Iran, the BBC reports.
Mural on Indian Red Ground was seized by the country's customs service on 11 May after being on loan to Japan.
The service said it confiscated the work over money owed by the Ministry of Culture, which runs the museum.
The ministry said the painting had been returned "after negotiations.”
Read the full story here.
05/29/2012 7:24 PM EDT
Dissident blogger in Iran.
Hossein Ronaghi Maleki, a 26-year-old Iranian dissident blogger, has spent the past 13 months in solitary confinement at Iran’s Evin Prison, BBC Persian reports.
International Business Times reports that Maleki has written a letter to Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, including the following passage:
“Leader of the Islamic Republic,
We must admit that judicial independence is not possible with the existence of so many intelligence and security entities.
We must admit that the society is facing a great explosion, and the current superficial peace is basically due to oppression, intimidation, imprisonments and suppression.
We must know that the thoughts of freedom seekers cannot be enchained! Ideologies cannot be tortured! Truth cannot be suppressed!”