Israel’s defense minister said the U.S. is projecting "weakness" on issues ranging from Iran to China to Russia and Ukraine, so Israel must rely on itself to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons.
Hinting at possible action against Iran, Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon said, “We have to behave as though we have nobody to look out for us but ourselves.”
“We had thought the ones who should lead the campaign against Iran is the United States,” Yaalon said in quotes published Tuesday in the Israeli newspaper Haaretz. “But at some stage the United States entered into negotiations with them, and unhappily, when it comes to negotiating at a Persian bazaar, the Iranians were better."
Yaalon likened America's image overseas to one of “feebleness” and said he hopes the U.S. will come “to its senses.”
The defense minister said that if the Obama administration continues showing weakness internationally, its own national security will suffer.
“If you sit and wait at home, the terrorism will come again,” Yaalon said. “Even if you hunker down, it will come. This is a war of civilizations. If your image is feebleness, it doesn’t pay in the world. Nobody will replace the United States as global policeman. I hope the United States comes to its senses. If it doesn’t, it will challenge the world order, and the United States is the one that will suffer.”
Yaalon slammed the Obama administration’s Middle East policy, accusing it of abandoning traditional moderate Sunni allies.
“The moderate Sunni camp in the area expected the United States to support it, and to be firm, like Russia’s support for the Shiite axis,” Yaalon said. “I heard voices of disappointment in the region. I was in Singapore and heard disappointment about China getting stronger and the U.S. getting weaker. Look what’s happening in Ukraine, where the United States is demonstrating weakness, unfortunately.”
Haaretz reported that Yaalon suggested that Obama would prefer to pass the Iranian challenge onto his successor.
“People know that Iran cheats,” Yaalon said. “But comfortable Westerners prefer to put off confrontation. If possible, to next year, or the next president. But in the end, it will blow up.”
A senior State Department official told Reuters on Sunday that Iran has continued to use front companies to illicitly purchase banned items for nuclear and missile production even after coming to an interim agreement with western nations over its controversial nuclear program.
"They still continue very actively trying to procure items for their nuclear program and missile program and other programs," said Vann Van Diepen, the State Department's principal deputy for nonproliferation issues
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu last week slammed Western nations for believing that Iran has abandoned its nuclear weapons ambitions.
The Israel Defense Forces earlier this month intercepted a shipment of what it said were Iranian conventional weapons headed to terrorist groups in Gaza which included 40 long-range rockets, 181 mortars and 400,000 bullets.
“They want to delude themselves that Iran abandoned its goal of obtaining nuclear weapons,” Netanyahu said of western nations last week.
The Associated Press reported Tuesday that Yaalon's office confirmed his remarks as quoted in Haaretz, “but refused to comment whether the defense minister was advocating an Israeli strike on Iran.”
Yaalon caused a diplomatic stir in January when he characterized Secretary of State John Kerry as “messianic” and acting out of “incomprehensible obsession” over his single-minded pursuit of an Israeli-Palestinian peace framework, comments for which he later apologized.
Negotiators are holding a new round of talks this week in Vienna over Iran's nuclear program, which the Islamic Republic insists is for peaceful purposes.