NEW YORK – Iran is equal to 30 nuclear North Koreas, Strategic Affairs Minister Yuval Steinitz stated at the 2013 Jerusalem Post Annual Conference in New York on Sunday.
According to the former finance minister, even though he “spent four years defending Israel from the ramifications of the global [economic] crisis,” the international recession is not as crucial as the “nuclearization of Iran.”
A nuclear Iran, he contended, would usher in a “different and dangerous world” and would be not only an “existential threat” to Israel but also a “terrible threat” to all of the Middle East, Europe and the United States.
“Iran is problem number one of our generation,” he said.
Steinitz recalled that many world leaders ignored British wartime leader Winston Churchill’s warnings about the danger of German rearmament prior to the outbreak of the Second World War.
Israel’s current situation is similar in some important ways, he said, to that of Britain in the 1930s, “despite all the differences.” In both cases, he asserted, people downplayed the threat of a militaristic regime arming itself due to a preoccupation with a grim economic situation.
However, Steinitz added, lessons must be learned also from recent history, noting that since North Korea broke out as a nuclear power, millions of people in South Korea, Japan and Alaska are “living under a tangible and serious nuclear threat.”
However, Iran is not North Korea, he added. “It’s much worse.”
The Iranian regime will be able to produce 20 to 30 nuclear bombs a year, he told conference attendees, expressing the assessment that “if Iran gets the first few bombs, in a decade or so they will have 100 nuclear bombs,” and therefore Iran will be equal to “30 nuclear North Koreas.”
This, he added, is dangerous because of Tehran’s “global ambitions” to usher in a “new era of Islamic hegemony.”
Steinitz asserted that while North Korea is content to use its weapons to blackmail the international community into providing payments to help maintain the stability of the ruling regime, the Iranians will be much more ambitious in their exploitation of a nuclear capability.
Sanctions, he added, are “not sufficient to achieve our goal” of blocking Iran from acquiring weapons of mass destruction. The Iranians tell themselves, he said, that “we are suffering… but we will achieve our goal. We are sacrificing something to achieve something else.”
“What is now necessary is to paint a very clear military threat, a credible threat that will make it crystal clear that they are paying something for nothing,” he said. “Only the combination of strong sanctions on the one hand and a red-line[ed] military threat on the other hand will create an impossible situation” for Tehran.
“If there is a chance to resolve this problem without military action,” he said, it will only be because opponents of Tehran’s nuclear program “choose a big enough stick and wave it in their faces.”
Speaking with The Jerusalem Post following his speech, Steinitz added that his figure of 100 bombs was “not an intelligence estimate” but rather was based on statements by the Islamic Republic itself.
“They said [that they will have] 56,000 centrifuges. If you implemented 56,000 centrifuges, you can produce enough fissile materials for almost 30 bombs annually,” Steinitz told the Post.
“Clearly, it is a large nuclear industry,” he added.
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