Sept 12 (Reuters) - Following are excerpts from an interview with Israeli Deputy Prime Minister Dan Meridor, who is also Minister of Intelligence and Atomic Energy, about the Iranian nuclear dispute.
DEADLINES FOR A SOLUTION
The time is now. There is no more time to waste, and that’s not only the Israeli perspective, it’s much more general.
POSSIBLE MILITARY ACTION
I’m not speaking of military action. I don’t want to give any word that would be misinterpreted. I intentionally put this issue in its broader context. Of course there is a special case in Israel because Iranian leaders say, not only (President Mahmoud) Ahmadinejad, that Israel is not legitimate and should not exist, and one sees the building up of weapons, not to speak of the meaningful involvement in terror all over the place.
One should not close one’s eyes but we are in a way fortunate that this is not only Israel’s problem.
ISRAELI’S NUCLEAR AMBIGUITY
Our policy is a good one and it worked well. And we are known to be quite a responsible country. We are in a unique position. There are formulas we use all the time (to address this issue). I will not say what we have, if we have or we don’t have (nuclear weapons), but the fact is that the alarm in the Arab world is related to the fear that Iran may have it.
HOW LONG BEFORE IRAN HAS BOMB-MAKING POTENTIAL
It’s not in the distant future. When they decide exactly this or exactly that is a good question but it’s not the main question. The trend is clear and if you want to be an owner of nuclear weapons or have the capability of being a nuclear power it changes the balance of power.
U.S. POLICY OF ENGAGEMENT WITH IRAN - A WASTE OF TIME?
I can’t say that, because the other option didn’t work either... If it works, it works. What I think we look for is the result, whether you do it with soft spoken language or with a heavy stick. I’d rather do it with a positive (method), but that doesn’t always work.
PROSPECTS FOR COMMON INTERNATIONAL ACTION
It’s important there is an understanding, a will, a capability, if all join hands, to enforce a concerted intensive action — which is not military action, I speak of political and economic measures — that may be taken if the Russians and Chinese can get on board.
PROSPECTS FOR PROLIFERATION
If there is no perception of a concerted effort the other countries who are concenred with the possibility of a nuclear Iran could develop their own in the meantime... Then you will find a different world, one harder for a superpower to manage.
I don’t think Russia has an interest in a nuclear Iran. Maybe they want to be considered as a partner, not to be told what to do. I am not for or against the Russians. I am saying they are important elements. Their have an important role in the world. Communism might be dead. Russia is not. (Reporting by William Maclean; Editing by Louise Ireland)