Peres de­nounces Iran as ‘evil regime’

Praises Obama as not will­ing to let Is­lamic na­tion build a nu­clear bomb

The Washington Times Daily - - World - BY BEN BIRN­BAUM

Is­raeli Pres­i­dent Shi­mon Peres railed Sun­day against the “evil, cruel, morally cor­rupt regime” in Iran and pledged that Is­rael and the United States will stop it from de­vel­op­ing nu­clear weapons.

“Iran is an evil, cruel, morally cor­rupt regime. It is based on destruc­tion. It is an af­front to hu­man dig­nity,” Mr. Peres said, speak­ing be­fore the an­nual gath­er­ing of the Amer­i­can Is­rael Public Af­fairs Com­mit­tee (AI­PAC).

“Iran is the cen­ter, the spon­sor, the fi­nancier of world ter­ror. Iran is a dan­ger to the en­tire world.”

Mr. Peres praised Pres­i­dent Obama for ral­ly­ing in­ter­na­tional sup­port for sanc­tions against Iran, which he said seeks to “con­trol the Mid­dle East so it can con­trol a ma­jor part of the world econ­omy.”

“Pres­i­dent Obama made it clear that the United States of Amer­ica will not per­mit Iran to be­come nu­clear,” Mr. Peres said.

“He made it clear that con­tain­ment is not a vi­able pol­icy, and as the pres­i­dent stated, all op­tions are on the ta­ble.”

“There is no space be­tween us,” Mr. Peres added. “Our mes­sage is clear: Iran will not de­velop a nu­clear weapon.”

Mr. Peres’ com­ments came as Pres­i­dent Obama pre­pared to meet Is­raeli Prime Min­is­ter Ben­jamin Ne­tanyahu on Mon­day at the White House — amid height­en­ing spec­u­la­tion that Is­rael will carry out airstrikes against Ira­nian nu­clear fa­cil­i­ties this year.

Mr. Ne­tanyahu is ex­pected to press Mr. Obama for as­sur­ances that the U.S. will strike Iran if sanc­tions fail.

Is­raeli me­dia re­ports sug­gested that Mr. Peres would tell Mr. Obama in their own meet­ing Sun­day that he op­posed an Is­raeli mil­i­tary strike at the mo­ment. But on Sun­day at AI­PAC, Mr. Peres said Is­rael was pre­pared to use force if nec­es­sary.

“Is­rael ex­pe­ri­enced the hor­ror of war. It does not seek it,” he said. “Peace is al­ways our first op­tion, but if we are forced to fight, trust me: we shall pre­vail.”

In his speech, Mr. Peres re­called his first meet­ing with Mr. Obama, when he was a U.S. se­na­tor from Illi­nois.

“I saw be­fore me a born leader,” Mr. Peres told the au­di­ence. “His care and de­vo­tion to Is­rael’s se­cu­rity was al­ready then ev­i­dent to me.

“Mr. Pres­i­dent, I know your com­mit­ment to Is­rael is deep and pro­found,” he added. “Un­der your lead­er­ship, se­cu­rity co­op­er­a­tion be­tween the USA and Is­rael has reached its high­est level. Ladies and gen­tle­men, we have a friend in the White House.”

Mr. Obama, who ad­dressed AI­PAC af­ter Mr. Peres, re­turned the praise, call­ing the Is­raeli leader “a pow­er­ful moral voice that re­minds us that right makes might, not the other way around.”

Mr. Obama an­nounced that he would honor Mr. Peres, who at 88 years old has held vir­tu­ally ev­ery ma­jor Is­raeli gov­ern­ment post, with the Pres­i­den­tial Medal of Free­dom this spring.

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