Israeli defense chief says Iran 'biggest generator of terrorism in the world'

Israeli Defense Minister Ya'alon with IAEA chairman Yukiya Amano in Munich, February 13, 2016
Ariel Hermoni / Ministry of Defense
"Arab states are preparing to get nuclear weapons...they are not willing to sit quietly with a nuclear Iran"

Israeli defense minister Moshe Ya'alon told defense officials attending the Munich global security conference this weekend that Iran is the "biggest generator of terrorism in the world," and saying that the recently implemented nuclear deal with Iran posed an "existential threat" to Israel.

Ya'alon was attending the global security conference in Munich this weekend, where he met with defense ministers and ministers of foreign affrairs from Germany, France, Britain, Italy, Canada, Georgia, Norway, Finland, and Poland, as well as with Chairman of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Dr. Yukiya Amano.

In meetings with security and defense officials, Ya'alon called Iran the biggest generator of terrorism in the world, saying its support of militant groups in both Lebanon and Syria threatens to destabilize the entire region.

"This axis, Tehran-Damascus-Beirut, is a nightmare for the Middle East," he said.

But the consequences of Iran's support for terrorist groups in the Middle East were of global concern, Ya'alon warned.

"Iran continues to arm terrorist groups in the region, that operate worldwide, including in Europe and America, to build and maintain dormant terrorist networks to be activated when the time comes," Ya'alon said.

Ariel Hermoni / Ministry of Defense

Speaking on the Iran nuclear accord, Ya'alon told defense officials that a nuclear armed Iran "is an existential concern" for Israel.

"When the Iranians say you have to wipe Israel off the map, we take these statements seriously," Ya'alon stressed during meetings at the global security conference in Munich with defense ministers from around the world.

In what was hailed as a momentous diplomatic breakthrough, Iran struck a nuclear accord with Western powers in Vienna agreement was nailed down in July after two years of rollercoaster negotiations and leading to the lifting of economic sanctions.

Ya'alon stressed the importance of consistent and effective monitoring of the Iran nuclear accord over the next 15 years, warning that "the Iranians are deceiving when it comes to their nuclear program."

Ya'alon told defense officials that if Iran were to feel safe, especially economically, they would no doubt pursue a bomb.

He also suggested that the prospect nuclear Iran was threatening to push the Middle East into a nuclear arms race.

"We see signs that the world's Arab states are preparing to get nuclear weapons, that they are not willing to sit quietly with a nuclear Iran on the brink of a nuclear bomb," Ya'alon said in a statement on Saturday.

In a separate meeting with Israeli lawmaker Tzipi Livni, Dr. Yukiya Amano, chairman of the IAEA which is responsible for overseeing nuclear deal with Iran, said that the IAEA has more tools today to ensure the prevention of nuclear development in Iran, i24NEWS' diplomatic correspondent Tal Shalev reports.

Iran has always denied wanting nuclear weapons, saying its activities are exclusively for peaceful purposes such as power generation.

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict was also a topic of discussion for security and defense officials in Munich.

Tzipi Livni met with US Secretary of State Kerry John Kerry on Saturday, where the two discussed the increase in terror between Israel and the Palestinians and the deadlock in negotiations between the two parties, i24NEWS' diplomatic correspondent Tal Shalev says.

Livni and Kerry discussed possible measures, including economic measures, to lower the level of tension on the ground, as well as the consequences of the Middle East Quartet's report on the West Bank, which was announced on Friday during the global security conference underway in Munich.

According to Haaretz, a statement issued followed the meeting said that the report would include proposals to deescalate violence, and advance a two-state solution.

Tal Shalev contributed to this report.


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