UK’s Cameron: No present justification for Israeli strike on Iran

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu makes a point to his British counterpart, David Cameron, on a visit to 10 Downing Street last year. (Amos Ben-Gershom/Flash90)

JERUSALEM (JWN and agencies)—Britain’s prime minister said Thursday that the international community still has time to pressure the Islamic Republic through sanctions and diplomacy before a military strike is necessary to keep it from developing nuclear weapons.

Prime Minister Cameron told NBC interviewer Brian Williams that there is no reason why Iran could not choose to use nuclear power for peaceful purposes, provided it abandoned its military nuclear program.

Cameron, in Washington for meetings with President Barack Obama, made his statement shortly after a top adviser to Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said that would be more forthcoming about its nuclear program in upcoming talks with big powers.

Adviser Mohammad Javad Larijani said Iran would be willing to be more transparent in exchange for more “cooperation” with the West, an apparent reference to an easing of sanctions that are beginning to throttle the Iranian economy.

Nevertheless, Larijani talked tough regarding the possibility of an Israeli strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities. “Here I want to copy the wording of President Obama,” he said: “Every possibility is on the table.”

Cameron’s remarks to NBC also followed a statement in Jerusalem on Wednesday by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu regarding objections by Western leaders to possible unilateral Israeli action against Iran. He told the Knesset plenum that Israel had disregarded American warnings in the past, particularly in destroying Iraq’s Osirak nuclear reactor in 1981.

Cameron repeated his opposition to an Israeli strike in the near future. Such an attack would be premature, he said, saying he doesn’t “think as we stand today that military action by Israel would be justified.”

“I don’t think the Israelis should take that action now. We told them they shouldn’t and said we wouldn’t support it if they did. We’ve been very clear,” Cameron said.

“It’s very, very important [Israel] knows it has strong allies like America, like the United Kingdom, but I don’t support action now because, frankly, we’ve got more road to run in putting in place sanctions and putting in place tough measures against the regime and saying to them they need to take a different path,” Cameron added.

The British prime minister optimistically held out the hope that Iran could retain “civil nuclear power, if they give up the ambition of having military nuclear power, they can have a future as a country that has more normal relations with the rest of the world,” adding: “We need to keep up the pressure to encourage them to make the right choice.”

“I think there is a lot more we can do to put pressure on Iran to get them to take a different path. We take nothing off the table. Britain is very clear just as America is. We don’t rule out taking action or supporting being a, but that’s not where we are right now. Right now, turn up the pressure. Get Iranians to think again,” he said.

Cameron maintained that he “completely” understands Israel’s position and acknowledged that he, too, does “not want to see an Iran with a nuclear weapon.” Beyond the immediate reason of Israel’s security, he warned that a nuclear-armed Iran would spark a nuclear arms race in the Middle East.

“Countries that don’t have nuclear weapons would want to acquire them,” Cameron said. ”This is about our own security. There are risks that Iran would have the capabilities to attack further. I’m quite clear this is in our interest that Iran doesn’t have a nuclear weapon. That’s why, with allies, we are piling on the pressure. We always work together, always will,” he added.

Site Last Update: September 2, 2014 - 10:46 am