Israel’s deputy foreign minister on Thursday said that a North Korean pledge to suspend nuclear tests in exchange for U.S. aid should not be seen as a model for dealing with Iran’s nuclear ambitions.
“The two cases are completely dissimilar,” Danny Ayalon told Israeli public radio, hours before Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was due to leave for talks in Washington with US President Barack Obama, expected to center on Israeli concerns that Tehran is racing to produce nuclear arms.
“We should congratulate United States foreign policy... but we have to remember that what has happened in North Korea is too little too late,” Ayalon added. “They have already crossed the threshold of nuclear capability and that’s certainly not what we would want to see happen in Iran.”
The Haaretz daily said that the White House argument against an Israeli pre-emptive strike on Iran was bolstered by Wednesday’s Washington-Pyongyang accord.
“Reports about the North Korea deal contributed to the Obama administration’s full-court press against the possibility of an Israeli military operation targeting Iran,” the paper wrote on Thursday.
White House spokesman Jay Carney warned on Wednesday that any military action against Iran would create “greater instability” that could threaten the safety of Americans in Afghanistan and Iraq.
“We continue to ratchet up the pressure on Tehran,” Carney said. “And I think it’s important to note that, while Tehran does not and has not lived up to its international obligations... we do have visibility into their programs.”
Ayalon, however, said on Thursday that Washington was “absolutely not” pressuring Israel to forego a possible military option.
Iran denies it is seeking nuclear weapons, but Israel − the Middle East’s sole if undeclared nuclear power − has called for tough sanctions against Tehran to force it to abandon its nuclear activities.
Iran’s nuclear program will be the “main topic” of discussion when Obama and Netanyahu meet at the White House on Monday, according to the Israeli premier.
Netanyahu will fly overnight on Thursday to Canada, where he will spend the weekend in Ottawa and meet Prime Minister Stephen Harper, before travelling to Washington for his first trip to the United States since he met Obama in September.