Netanyahu: A nuclear Iran ‘infinitely more dangerous’ than North Korea

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gestures while giving a lecture at Chatham House, The Royal Institute of International Affairs, in London Nov. 3, 2017. Netanyahu spoke to outline his government’s foreign policy priorities in light of the current geopolitical landscape across the Middle East and took part in a question and answer session. (AFP/Adrian Dennis)
Updated 04 November 2017
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Netanyahu: A nuclear Iran ‘infinitely more dangerous’ than North Korea

LONDON: Israeli premier Benjamin Netanyahu has said Iran would be “infinitely more dangerous” than North Korea should it develop nuclear weapons, pointing to Tehran’s aim for “world domination.”

Netanyahu, speaking at the Chatham House think-tank in London, pointed to Iran’s backing of Hezbollah in Lebanon, the Houthis in Yemen and Shiite militias in Iraq.

“The one potent force in militant Islam that has emerged is Iran. And it is devouring one nation after the other. It is doing so either by direct conflict, or more usually by using proxies,” Netanyahu said.

“The good news is that the other guys are getting together with Israel as never before.”

Pointing to a large map behind the stage at Chatham House, Netanyahu illustrated Iran’s apparent plan for a so-called Shiite crescent extending to Israel’s borders.

“They have actually a conception of world domination that should have gone out the window with the last religious wars,” he said.

“There’s something … irrational and dangerous in such a cause.”

Netanyahu said a “new alliance” has emerged between his country and the Sunni Arab states to combat an “irrational and dangerous” Iran.

Most Arab states do not have formal diplomatic relations with Israel, but Netanyahu said ties have been growing stronger due to the perceived threat from Tehran.

“There is something that I wouldn’t have expected in my lifetime, but we are working very hard to establish, and that is an affective alliance between Israel and the moderate Sunni states to (combat) the aggression from Iran,” he told the audience in London.

Netanyahu said that the “new alliance between Israel and the Sunni states” was not dependent on peace with Palestinians, but could lead to it.

He described the shift in Arab-Israeli relations as “dramatic,” adding that “attitudes to Israel are mellowing considerably” in the Arabian Gulf amid heightened tensions with Tehran.

States such as Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain have accused Iran of meddling in other countries’ affairs and see Iran as the largest state sponsor of terrorism.

“When Arabs and Israelis are saying the same thing, it’s worth paying attention to it,” Netanyahu said.

Netanyahu’s lecture came the day after he joined his British counterpart Theresa May at a dinner celebrating the Balfour Declaration of 1917.

The controversial document offered Britain’s support for “the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people.”

Netanyahu said on Friday he hoped a US peace initiative on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict will work.

Asked if he felt now was the moment for peace in the region, noting US President Donald Trump’s involvement in peace efforts, he said: “Hope so.”

“What’s being discussed now is an American initiative. Obviously we make our interests and our concerns known to Mr.Trump. He’s coming with a sort of refreshing ‘can-do’ ... they’re trying to think out of the box,” Netanyahu said.


US bolsters Middle East force with 1,500 troops as Pentagon blames Iran for tanker attacks

Updated 4 min 20 sec ago
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US bolsters Middle East force with 1,500 troops as Pentagon blames Iran for tanker attacks

  • Donald Trump says the additional troops would serve a 'mostly protective' role
  • The US began reinforcing its presence in the Arabian Gulf region earlier this month

WASHINGTON: The US will strengthen its force in the Middle East with 1,500 extra troops, Donald Trump said Friday as the Pentagon blamed Iran for an attack on oil tankers off the coast of the UAE.

"We want to have protection in the Middle East," Trump said as he left the White House for a trip to Japan. "We're going to be sending a relatively small number of troops, mostly protective.
"Some very talented people are going to the Middle East right now. And we'll see what happens."

Shortly after his comments, the Pentagon accused Iran's Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) of being directly responsible for attacks on tankers off the UAE earlier this month, describing it as part of a "campaign" by Tehran driving new US deployments.
"The attack against the shipping in Fujairah we attribute it to the IRGC," said Rear Admiral Michael Gilday, the director of the Joint Staff, adding the Pentagon attributed limpet mines used in the attack to the IRGC. He declined to describe "the means of delivery" of the mines.

The 1,500 extra troops will be made up of a deployment of 900 more forces, including engineers, and the extension of a tour by some 600 personnel manning Patriot missiles.

Officials said earlier that members of Congress were notified following a White House meeting Thursday to discuss Pentagon proposals to bolster the force in the region.
Earlier this week, officials said that Pentagon planners had outlined plans that could have sent up to 10,000 military reinforcements to the region. Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan later said planners had not settled on a figure.
The US began reinforcing its presence in the Arabian Gulf region this month in response to what it said was a threat from Iran.

*With AP and Reuters