Israeli President Shimon Peres on Thursday said Iran’s religious leaders were “prisoners of their own work” due to their unstoppable quest for nuclear weapons.
In an onstage interview opening The Jerusalem Post Diplomatic Conference, Peres blamed Iran’s Ayatollahs for raising the stakes in a game they cannot win.
“Khamenei says that religion forbids them nuclear weapons, then why do they develop long range missiles with warheads capable of carrying nuclear weapons? Those missiles have no civilian purpose. As long as they keep enriching uranium, developing long range missiles, supporting the revolutionary guard then they will remain prisoners of their own work. It is not just a matter of speeches; they have complicated themselves into an impossible system,” he said.
He was more sanguine on Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, but most hopeful for a response to Iran’s leaders from the Iranian people, last put down in the violent repression of protests in 2009.
“I think it’s part of a new puzzle. People voted for [Rouhani] not because he is a revolutionary, but because he was the least extreme and most reasonable. All of us are concerned about the enrichment of uranium but there is a wider picture,” Peres said. “Dictatorships only seem strong but they are the weakest, an Iranian Spring is possible; don’t underestimate the power and ability of the people.”
As for Israel’s current ongoing negotiations with the Palestinian Authority, he said the longevity of his relationship with PA chairman Mahmoud Abbas leads him to believe that this time, the outcome of the talks will be different.
“I’ve known Abbas for 30 years, I believe his choice is to arrive to an agreement and he has said there is no need to return to the old cities and if we reach an agreement there won’t be further demands. I’m not saying he agrees with us but there is enough to bring the sides together. At the beginning of negotiations and both sides start with maximum positions, the aim of negotiations is to bring the two sides together,” he said.