Iran threatens U.S, Israel

Chief of staff warns Tehran’s enemies and regional states against military action, calling American threats ‘political bluff’

In the latest in a series of warnings against the US, Iran’s chief of staff Hassan Firouzabadi warned the Islamic republic’s foes that Iran is prepared for a “decisive battle” if attacked.

Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on stage during a meeting with Iranian air force commanders in Tehran

Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on stage during a meeting with Iranian air force commanders in Tehran

“We are ready for the decisive battle with America and the Zionist regime (Israel),” Fars news agency quoted Firouzabadi as saying Wednesday.

He also warned neighboring nations not to allow any attack to be launched on Iran from their soil.

“We do not have any hostility toward regional states, but if we are ever attacked from the American bases in the region we will strike that area back,” he said.

Washington has many military bases in the region, including in Bahrain, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Turkey.

US Secretary of State John Kerry said late last month that if diplomacy with Iran fails, “the military option of the United States is ready and prepared to do what it would have to do.”

But Firouzabadi accused the US of bluffing.

“Over the past decade, they brought their forces but came to the conclusion that they can’t attack us, and left,” he said, dismissing the US military threat as nothing but a “political bluff.”

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said on Tuesday that the West should not have any delusions about using a military option.

“I say explicitly, if some have delusions of having any threats against Iran on their tables, they need to wear new glasses. There is no military option against Iran on any table in the world,” he said.

On Sunday, Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps Navy Commander Ali Fadavi said the US knows that its aircraft carriers in the Persian Gulf would be sunk if it launched a military strike on Iran.

“The Americans can sense by all means how their warships will be sunk with 5,000 crews and forces in combat against Iran and how they should find its hulk in the depths of the sea,” said Fadavi, according to Fars news agency.

“They cannot hide themselves in the sea since the entire Middle East region, Western Europe, the Persian Gulf, the Sea of Oman and the Strait of Hormuz are monitored by us and there is no place for them to hide.”

Also Sunday, Defense Minister Hossein Dehqan touted the Iranian military’s ability to respond to an American attack, Fars reported.

“The Iranian Armed Forces are an intertwined and coherent complex that can give a decisive response to any threat at any level and any place under the command of the commander-in-chief,” Dehqan said in a ceremony marking the 35th anniversary of the revolution that brought the current Islamic regime to power.

“The enemy can never assess and think of the range of the response given by the powerful and mighty Armed Forces of the Islamic Iran,” he added.

The bellicose rhetoric follows Saturday’s announcement by an Iranian admiral that Iran had dispatched warships to the North Atlantic, while Iran’s spiritual leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei denounced the Americans as liars who, while professing to be friends of Tehran, would bring down his regime if they could. He also said it was “amusing” that the US thought Iran would reduce its “defensive capabilities.”

On Friday, Iranian state TV ran a documentary featuring a computerized video of Iran’s drones and missiles bombing Tel Aviv, Haifa, Ben-Gurion Airport and the Dimona nuclear reactor in a simulated retaliation for a hypothetical Israeli or American strike on the Islamic Republic.

Iran is due to resume talks on Monday in Vienna with the P5+1 — Britain, France, the United States, Russia and China plus Germany — aimed at reaching a comprehensive nuclear accord following a landmark interim agreement struck in November.

Western nations have long suspected Iran of covertly pursuing nuclear weapons alongside its civilian program, allegations denied by Tehran, which insists its nuclear activities are entirely peaceful.

Neither the United States nor Israel has ruled out military action to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon, if diplomacy fails.

Strike inevitable as Iran mocks World Powers

With an interim agreement reached and signed in Geneva between the P-5+1 and Iran on Saturday, the US Government seems content while subsequent events clearly indicate Iran is not planning on keeping its end of the bargain leaving Netanyahu no option but to order a strike.

A couple of quick pen strokes signaled the sealing of the (interim) agreement in the early hours of Sunday after four long days of negotiations. Soon thereafter, near-euphoric headlines emerged around the world notifying the international community of this happening. Yet there is little to rejoice about.

Read the rest of the article at:

blogs.timesofisrael.com/strike-inevitable-as-iran-mocks-world-powers/

Rouhani, on Iranian TV in May, detailed how he broke nuclear pledge

Candidate’s interview from just before his election gets fresh attention as West seeks to judge Iran’s credibility ahead of new negotiations

n a video clip now gaining fresh attention as the international community seeks to assess his credibility, Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani bragged on Iranian state television just four months ago that he and the regime utterly flouted a 2003 agreement with the IAEA in which it promised to suspend all uranium enrichment and certain other nuclear activities.

Rouhani, who was being interviewed by Iran’s state IRIB TV (Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting) on May 27, less than three weeks before he won the June 14 presidential elections, was provoked by the interviewer’s assertion that, as Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator in 2003-5, “everything was suspended” on the nuclear program under his watch.

Smiling but evidently highly irritated by the suggestion, Rouhani called it “a lie” that only “the illiterate” would believe, and said that “whoever is talking to you in your earpiece” was feeding false information. He proceeded to detail how Iran, in fact, had flagrantly breached the October 2003 “Tehran Declaration,” which he said “was supposed to outline how everything should be suspended.”

Although Iran issued a joint statement with visiting EU ministers in October 2003 setting out its pledged obligations under the Tehran Declaration, in practice, Rouhani said in the interview, “We did not let that happen!”

The interview, conducted by Hassan Abedini, was one in a series of shows in which the presidential candidates were questioned by the widely watched channel. The TV station is closely controlled by loyalists of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and Rouhani clearly felt the imperative to underline that he was no Western pushover.

Far from honoring the commitment, in which Iran said “it has decided voluntarily to suspend all uranium enrichment and reprocessing activities,” Rouhani told the interviewer that all Iran did was merely suspend “ten centrifuges” in the Natanz enrichment facility. “And not a total suspension. Just reduced the yield.”

Unimpressed, interviewer Abedini asserted that work had been suspended at the UCF — the Uranium Enrichment Facility at Isfahan. Quite the contrary, Rouhani countered, detailing the completion of various phases of work at Isfahan under his watch in 2004 and 2005. He went on to state proudly that the Iranian heavy water reactor at Arak was also developed under his watch, in 2004.

“Do you know when we developed yellowcake? Winter 2004,” Rouhani went on. “Do you know when the number of centrifuges reached 3,000? Winter 2004.”

Incredulous at the notion that Iran had bowed to international pressure and halted nuclear activities in that period, Rouhani asked the interviewer, “We halted the nuclear program? We were the ones to complete it! We completed the technology.”

He clarified that this was not his solo success, but was rather thanks to the work of “our valuable nuclear scientists. Our beloved ones. We kiss their hands.” But he stressed, “We were the first to initiate this. By ‘we,’ I mean the whole government, not Hassan Rouhani. By we, I mean the supreme leader. We were all hand in hand. That is why the supreme leader in his speech of November 11, 2003, said that in those negotiations, the conspiracy of Washington and Israel was shattered.”

Iran had taken “the correct stance [in the nuclear talks], without submission and coercion,” he said.

Rouhani then again attacked the interviewer, and “the guy who talks into your earpiece” for allegedly misleading viewers, to which Abedini replied: “I have read your book from cover to cover, twice.”

“Good job,” retorted Rouhani. “Then read it for a third time, Mr. Abedini. This is how we completed the nuclear enrichment program.”

In his speech to the UN General Assembly last week, and in a succession of other statements and inteviews, Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has alleged that Rouhani, in his current outreach to the West, is misleading it by professing a willingness to negotiate over the nuclear program. Netanyahu warned the international community not to be “fooled” by Rouhani as it enters new diplomatic negotiations set to start next week.

As Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator between 2003 and 2005, Netanyahu said at the UN, Rouhani “masterminded the strategy which enabled Iran to advance its nuclear weapons program behind a smokescreen of diplomatic engagement and very soothing rhetoric.”

Netanyahu then quoted from Rouhani’s 2011 book, in which he wrote, “‘While we were talking to the Europeans in Tehran, we were installing equipment in Isfahan.’ Now, for those of you who don’t know,” Netanyahu explained, “the Isfahan facility is an indispensable part of Iran’s nuclear weapons program. That’s where uranium ore called yellowcake is converted into an enrichable form. Rouhani boasted, and I quote, ‘By creating a calm environment — a calm environment — we were able to complete the work in Isfahan.’ He fooled the world once. Now he thinks he can fool it again.”

In Rouhani’s address to the UN, on September 24, the president said “Iran poses absolutely no threat to the world or the region,” and offered “to engage immediately in time-bound and result-oriented talks” over the nuclear program, “to build mutual confidence and removal of mutual uncertainties with full transparency.” At the same time, he warned, “Nuclear knowledge in Iran has been domesticated now and the nuclear technology, inclusive of enrichment, has already reached industrial scale. It is, therefore, an illusion, and extremely unrealistic, to presume that the peaceful nature of the nuclear program of Iran could be ensured through impeding the program via illegitimate pressures.”

Netanyahu says he would consider meeting with Rouhani

Two days after excoriating Hassan Rouhani as a wolf in sheep’s clothing who lies about Iran’s nuclear ambitions, and 10 days after he instructed Israel’s UN delegation to leave the General Assembly hall rather than hear Rouhani speak, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he would “consider” meeting the Iranian president, in comments published early Friday.

Netanyahu, speaking to National Public Radio as part of a media blitz while in the US, said he would question Rouhani on Tehran’s nuclear program, which the Israeli leader has called to be completely shut down.

“I don’t care about the meeting. I don’t have a problem with the diplomatic process,” Netanyahu said to NPR’s Steve Inskeep.

“I haven’t been offered. If I’m offered, I’d consider it, but it’s not an issue,” he clarified. “If I meet with these people I’d stick this question in their face: Are you prepared to dismantle your program completely? Because you can’t stay with the [nuclear] enrichment.”

He also called Rouhani, considered a relative moderate, the “least bad” candidate of those who were allowed to run in Iran’s June presidential elections.

Netanyahu told NPR that Iran’s overtures toward a deal with the West to curb its uranium enrichment were “hogwash,” but said he would be “delighted” by a “real” deal, according to excerpts published by NPR. The full interview was to air on Morning Edition later Friday.

In his speech to the UN on Tuesday, Netanyahu had depicted Rouhani in withering terms, and set out what he said was the Iranian president’s strategy: “First, smile a lot. Smiling never hurts. Second, pay lip service to peace, democracy and tolerance. Third, offer meaningless concessions in exchange for lifting sanctions. And fourth, and the most important, ensure that Iran retains sufficient nuclear material and sufficient nuclear infrastructure to race to the bomb at a time it chooses to do so. You know why Rouhani thinks he can get away with this? I mean, this is a ruse. It’s a ploy… Because he’s gotten away with it before, because his strategy of talking a lot and doing little has worked for him in the past.”

A week earlier, the prime minister instructed the Israeli delegation to exit the General Assembly hall before Rouhani addressed the forum — the only country to do so. Later, facing criticism at home, including from inside his own coalition, Netanyahu said he was vindicated. To have the Israeli representatives in the hall listening to Rouhani’s speech, he said, “would have given legitimacy to a regime that does not accept that the Holocaust happened and publicly declares its desire to wipe Israel off the map.” As Israel’s prime minister, he said, “I won’t allow the Israeli delegation to be part of a cynical public relations charade by a regime that denies that Holocaust and calls for our destruction.”

Aides to Netanyahu had no comment on the prime minister’s remarks about meeting Rouhani. Those around Netanyahu said that the question about a meeting was hypothetical, and stressed that the prime minister’s stance on Iran, its ambition to destroy Israel, and the duplicity of its outreach to the West was unchanged.

Meanwhile Thursday, Netanyahu made his first effort at direct outreach to the Iranians, giving an interview to BBC Persian peppered with Farsi sayings.

In the BBC interview, he said the ayatollahs’ regime was responsible for the harsh sanctions and socioeconomic situation they are enduring.

“I would welcome a genuine rapprochement, a genuine effort to stop the nuclear program, not a fake one, not harf-e pootch [‘nonsense’ in Farsi]. We are not sadeh-lowe [‘suckers’ in Farsi],” said the prime minister.

Jerusalem, which enjoyed friendly relations with Tehran before the 1979 Islamic Revolution, has made efforts to avoid any contact with the Iranians, with Netanyahu ordering the Israeli delegation to leave the United Nations plenum when Rouhani spoke there on September 24.

On Tuesday, Netanyahu warned the United Nations General Assembly about Rouhani who, he said, was trying to charm the West while nuclear enrichment, widely believed to be for military purposes, continued in Iran as it did under his predecessor.

“[Mahmoud] Ahmadinejad was a wolf in wolf’s clothing. Rouhani is a wolf in sheep’s clothing, a wolf who thinks he can pull the eyes — the wool over the eyes of the international community,” he said.

Israel sees an Iranian nuclear weapon as an existential threat and has lobbied the world to keep pressure on Tehran, though the US has recently made moves to open negotiations for lifting sanctions in exchange for concessions on the nuclear program.

Attempts at detente between the US and Iran, which cut off relations in 1980 following the Islamic Revolution and hostage crisis, reached fever pitch late last month, with US President Barack Obama speaking to Rouhani in a historic phone call. Rouhani rejected requests by Obama for a meeting, though, with officials saying the Iranian leader’s schedule did not allow for it.

On Wednesday, Rouhani responded unequivocally to Netanyahu’s UN speech, promising to continue what Iran insists is a peaceful nuclear program with “full power.”

“Israel is upset to see that its sword has gone blunt and Iran grows more powerful day by day,” Rouhani told reporters in Tehran, according to the semi-official Fars News Agency.

Since the speech, Netanyahu has been engaged in a PR offensive, giving interviews to a number of Western news outlets designed to present Israel’s position on Iran.

Speaking to NBC Wednesday, Netanyahu dismissed the notion that Rouhani was freely elected, saying Iranians would topple the regime if they could.

“These people, the Iranian people, the majority of them are actually pro-Western,” he stated, adding, “But they don’t have that. They’re governed not by Rouhani, they’re governed by Ayatollah Khamenei. He heads a cult. That cult is wild in its ambitions and its aggression.”

On Wednesday night, meanwhile, Netanyahu spoke to American Jewish leaders at a closed media event, telling his audience that Rouhani’s charm offensive was not proving as successful as many observers assume.

Netanyahu said press coverage of the Iranian leader’s efforts to woo the West — notably in a UN speech 10 days ago, and a series of media interviews — might have exaggerated the effect it had on the public.

The prime minister also rejected critics who said his policies on Iran and the Palestinians isolated Israel, and said his stance on Iran is closer than many might imagine to that of many worried Arab states in the region.

Israel’s Channel 2 reported Wednesday that Netanyahu was presiding over “intensive contacts” with unnamed Arab and Gulf leaders to form a new alliance against Iran, amid fears that the US would be duped by Tehran in the nascent diplomatic process.

Netanyahu in Persian: We’re not suckers

PM interviews for Persian BBC, peppers talk with Persian idioms, says Iranian people pay heavy price for military nuclear program

“We’re not SADEH-LOWH (suckers in Persian),” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in his first-ever interview to a Persian-language media outlet.

In the interview for the Persian-language BBC channel Netanyahu said that If Tehran gets nuclear weapons, the Iranian people will never be set free from tyranny and will live enslaved forever.

Netanyahu presented Iranian President Rouhani’s memoir, “National Security and Nuclear Diplomacy,” from which he cited excerpts which he claimed prove Iran’s president has previously led a policy of deception against the West, so that Iran could advance its nuclear program unimpeded.

Netanyahu said he will welcome diplomatic attempts to block Iran’s nuclear program, but not fake effort, which he called, in Persian, HARF-E POOTCH (nonsense).

The BBC Persian channel is aired in Iran, despite the regime’s attempt to remove it from the airwaves. According to the BBC, the channel is watched by some 12 million viewers a week.

In the interview, Netanyahu addressed the Iranian people directly and claimed that Iran’s ayatollahs are responsible for the severe sanctions leveled against Iran and the dire economic situation in the country, due to its efforts to acquire nuclear weapons.

Netanyahu also stressed the “historical friendship” between the Jewish and the Persian nations which he said held close relations until the Islamic Revolution.

The prime minister insisted the Iranian people pay a heavy price for the military nuclear program which its regime claims it doesn’t have and stressed that  wants a diplomatic solution, but it has to be a real and comprehensive one.

He added that he believed the Jewish and Iranian peoples can be friends if the Iranian regime was toppled.

“Palestinians cannot be trusted with real peace”

Brig. Gen. (res.) Udi Dekel, who was party to the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations for over 20 years, has a disillusioned view of the peace process • “Chance of achieving peace are slim. Differences on core issues have only grown,” he says.

A caption from Stand With Us in Israel referring to the need for Palestinians to 'reall' want peace

A caption from Stand With Us in Israel referring to the need for Palestinians to ‘really’ want peace

Nine months. That’s the amount of time the people running the American-sponsored talks between Israel and the Palestinians allotted for reaching a peace treaty. If a permanent agreement is reached, Brig. Gen. (res.) Udi Dekel will eat his hat.

But if you ask Dekel, who for two decades closely followed the various attempts to hold talks with the Palestinians, the chance of that happening is slim. So he supports the idea of an interim agreement with the Palestinians, as do formerly high-ranking figures such as Yossi Beilin.

Dekel has been following the talks with the Palestinians from up close for many years. Today he is the deputy director of the Institute for National Security Studies in Tel Aviv. Recently he presented Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with a 1600-page book summing up all the talks that have ever taken place between Israel and the Palestinians.

From 2007 to 2009, Dekel served as the head of Israel’s negotiating team in Ehud Olmert’s government. Olmert, Tzipi Livni and Ehud Barak appointed Dekel after he left the Israel Defense Forces at the rank of brigadier-general, after having served as the head of the Strategic Planning Division in the General Staff’s Planning Directorate. Before that, he served as the chief of staff’s assistant for diplomatic agreements. There really is such a position — it is filled by the army official responsible for the peace talks, and his job is to provide the security-related perspective, which is an essential part of any peace agreement. Before that, Dekel served as head of the Research Division in Air Force Intelligence and as the IAF’s representative in discussions about peace agreements.

“Oslo started with a progressive approach of stage-by-stage progress,” Dekel says in a special interview. “It didn’t work. Ehud Olmert changed the approach. He came along and said, ‘Enough working on the process. Let’s work on the question of the conclusion, the question of the final-status agreement. Let’s decide what we want in the final-status agreement, and then we’ll see how to get there.’ That was the idea of the Annapolis summit: to discuss the final-status arrangement while continuing to move forward according to the road map.

“We had 12 committees at Annapolis that discussed issues such as the economy, infrastructures, environmental quality, border crossings, water transfer, various legal issues such as extradition agreements, and also the issue of the Palestinian prisoners. One of the committees even discussed the culture of peace. We reached agreements on all topics. Tzipi Livni coordinated all the teams’ work. She ran the talks very responsibly and seriously. She examined every issue thoroughly. She did not rush things. She did not promise things she could not commit to. At the same time, she built trust among the Palestinians; they saw that she was truly striving to reach an agreement with them. That was very important. It created a positive approach in the rooms where the meetings took place.

“The subject of Jerusalem wasn’t discussed in the teams. Olmert put it on the table at the end. A partition plan for the city was suggested that got to the level of street names. The basis of the Jerusalem partition plan was that the Jewish neighborhoods would be on the Israeli side, and the Arab neighborhoods would be on the Palestinian side. They suggested a partition of the Old City and the creation of a joint municipal agency. A special status was discussed for the Holy Basin that would include the Temple Mount, the Mount of Olives, Mount Zion and the City of David.

“The land would be managed by a third party. An international force would be established that would serve as a police force in the area. For example, the commander would be American and have two deputies, an Israeli and a Palestinian. The Waqf would keep managing the Temple Mount, and an international force would be in charge of security. Regarding sovereignty, a decision was made not to decide. Neither they nor we would give up sovereignty. We demand sovereignty over the place. Now, on the strength of our sovereignty, we give authority to a third party there.”

The result is well known.

“We accomplished nothing because the Palestinians decided to run away,” Dekel says. “The moment Olmert put the things on the table, with a generous proposal from our perspective, they decided to vanish. They didn’t want to say yes or no. They avoided saying no because they wanted to keep all the flexibility that Israel had put on the table.

“As much as we love to blame ourselves — and we do — the other side is as much to blame as we are that there is no agreement. At Camp David, too, in the talks between Arafat, Barak and Clinton and in the talks with Olmert, the other side refused to accept things in which we met them halfway. Every time it reached the testing point, the Palestinians decided not to make the hard decisions.”

Q: What about Olmert?

“Olmert took the whole package and wanted to play give-and-take with it. So we make territorial concessions, and they make security-related concessions. The Palestinians wanted to take Olmert’s proposal and break it up into the 12 committees that we established in Annapolis so they could benefit from Israel’s flexibility without having to give anything in return.”

According to Dekel, “The Palestinians didn’t want to close with Olmert. Later, they said that the reason they didn’t take the proposal was that Olmert didn’t stay on as prime minister, and the next prime minister was evidently going to be Netanyahu and not Livni. Regarding Netanyahu, they didn’t believe he would carry out the agreement that Olmert had proposed, so what would they gain by agreeing to Olmert’s proposal? A situation would be created in which the plan would be revealed and Mahmoud Abbas would be considered a traitor, since all the Palestinians’ flexibility would be exposed, and no agreement was reached.

“When the critical moment arrives where the tough decisions have to be made, they don’t have the courage, leadership or the drive to make those tough decisions. Then it’s easy for them to find some issue and get the process stuck on it, and gain what they can at that moment. Back in Olmert’s time, the Palestinians decided that they were going to play on the international court. They believed that there, it would be easier for them to gain much more.”

According to Dekel, the Palestinians say they have “natural rights to the land, and that they don’t need anything from Israel. They say Israel came from a position of strength, as rulers, with the strong army, but they come with a natural right. Now, with their right, they are coming to receive recognition from the international community.”

They’re still doing that today, aren’t they?

“Yes. Today, too, their purpose in going into the talks is to prove that Israel is not a partner, that Israel is not willing to move forward. Even now, we understand from the leaks on the Palestinian side that they’re saying Israel is not flexible enough and isn’t moving enough, in the talks, in the direction they want. This is an obvious trend whose purpose is to prepare the ground so that later, they will be able to come to the international community and say: ‘We tried, but Israel isn’t willing to move forward and reach an agreement, so go ahead and give us what we want.’

“I don’t see any chance that we will reach a permanent agreement. The gaps in the core issues haven’t narrowed from the talks in Olmert’s time to those in Netanyahu’s. They’ve only grown wider.”

Dekel is the one who coined the phrase “Anything agreed upon will be implemented” — the same motto uttered frequently by those known as “the Oslo people,” who, like Dekel, favor an interim agreement.

“It’s true that I’m the one who came up with that sentence, and people were angry with me when I said it then,” he says, and hastens to explain the idea behind it.

“The rule that governed the talks with the Palestinians during Ehud Olmert’s time was that nothing would be agreed upon until everything had been agreed upon. The idea on which this approach was based was to create flexibility in the negotiating room. What it really did was create stubbornness. My understanding is that to change a reality, you have to take steps that change that reality all the time. My idea says that if something was agreed upon — for example, today we can agree about water — why not implement it?

“The game where you’re not willing to make any concessions as long as there’s no permanent arrangement isn’t relevant. My approach, and that of those who were involved in past negotiations, is that the chance of reaching a final-status agreement is slim. Now, as long as there’s positive potential in the talks, there’s a chance to build an alternative.”

Dekel suggests looking at the possibility of an interim agreement or “independent step,” as he puts it.

“A final-status agreement will remain the final goal, but we need to decide that we’re going to change the reality in stages. Israel has an interest in the establishment of a Palestinian state with temporary borders and in anchoring the two-state solution. So let’s get there, and we’ll catch up on the details later.

“There’s no need to determine the borders — just the principle of the borders. Tomorrow morning, we can establish a state for the Palestinians that includes more than 60 percent of the land in the West Bank without evacuating the settlements, with complete freedom of movement for them, as well as control of the area. It’s true that it isn’t completely a sovereign state, but it’s a significant leap from their current situation.

“While the concepts of ‘unilateral’ and ‘disengagement’ are unpopular, we must also plan unilateral measures as a relevant option. We’re busy with strategic planning in a changing environment. We can no longer plan something and figure out the goal as we go. The new policy has to be that at each point in time, you have to create as many options as you can that will anchor the main principle.

“Now the main thing is to protect Israel as a Jewish and democratic state and anchor the two-state solution. There is broad agreement on these two principles. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his coalition agree on them, and there is agreement outside the coalition as well. After all, we’ve been trying unsuccessfully to reach an agreement for the past 20 years.

“It’s obvious that a permanent agreement is preferable, but if there is no chance of that, then we need to find a solution that is good for us. An interim agreement will anchor what is good for us. It makes no mention of the return of the refugees. There is no change in Jerusalem. We are keeping the settlement blocs in our control and deploying along the route of the security barrier. We are keeping the army deployed in the Jordan Valley. It’s true that the demands are endless, but a new situation has been created that the world will have to deal with.

“What will we accomplish by that? You are giving up land and making concessions on many topics, the conflict is continuing, the other side has made no commitment to stop what it is doing in the international arena and the conflict on the ground is continuing.

“The new strategic approach says: ‘Let’s take the tools we have and shape the situation without depending on what the other side wants. Staying in place is a bad thing because all you do is accumulate demerits without making progress toward your goals, with or without the other side.'”

Dekel adds that the process of unilateral disengagement from the Gaza Strip is not like the measures that would be taken in a unilateral interim agreement in Judea and Samaria — first, because there would be no evacuation of settlements; second, because the Jordan Valley would remain under Israeli control.

“We’re not making the border porous. We’re preventing the entry of arms and of people whom we don’t want to go inside the Palestinian state,” he says. “One way or another, we reserve the right to defend ourselves, and if we must take security-related measures within it, we will do so.”

Kerry sees potential for quick Iran nuclear deal

U.S. National Security Advisor Susan Rice: “U.S.-Iran relationship has a long way to go to get to the state of normalization” • Iranian FM takes aim at Netanyahu’s skepticism over Iran’s recent overtures: “A smile attack is better than a lie attack.”

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry takes his seat moments before the U.N. Security Council voted unanimously in favor of a resolution eradicating Syria's chemical arsena

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry takes his seat moments before the U.N. Security Council voted unanimously in favor of a resolution eradicating Syria’s chemical arsenal

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said Sunday that a deal on Iran’s nuclear weapons program could be reached relatively quickly, and that it would have the potential to dramatically improve the relationship between the two countries.

Kerry said intensifying diplomatic efforts to resolve the dispute over Iran’s nuclear program could produce an agreement within the three- to six-month time frame that Iranian President Hasan Rouhani has previously mentioned.

“It’s possible to have a deal sooner than that depending on how forthcoming and clear Iran is prepared to be,” Kerry said in an interview with CBS’s “60 Minutes” on Sunday.

“If it is a peaceful program, and we can all see that — the whole world sees that — the relationship with Iran can change dramatically for the better and it can change fast,” he said.

Rouhani and U.S. President Barack Obama spoke by telephone on Friday in the highest-level contact between the two countries in three decades, raising hopes of a breakthrough in Western efforts to prevent Iran from building a nuclear bomb.

The call was the culmination of a recent, dramatic shift in tone between Iran and the United States. The two countries severed diplomatic relations a year after the 1979 Iranian revolution.

Kerry said Iran could prove its sincerity by immediately opening its nuclear facilities to inspections and keeping its uranium enrichment efforts at lower grades that were not suitable for military use.

Iran has defended its right to enrich uranium as part of a civilian nuclear energy and medicine program and denied that it aims to develop atomic weapons, but the United States and its allies have sought an end to higher-grade uranium enrichment that could be a step away from the production of weapons-grade material.

“Iran needs to take rapid steps, clear and convincing steps, to live up to the international community’s requirements regarding nuclear programs, peaceful nuclear programs,” Kerry said.

“Words are not going to replace actions,” he said. “What we need are actions that prove that we and our allies, our friends in the region, can never be threatened by this program.”

In a separate interview, Iran’s foreign minister said the country’s right to peaceful nuclear enrichment was not negotiable but it did not need to enrich uranium to military-grade levels.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said Iran was willing to open its nuclear facilities to international inspections as part of a nuclear deal as long as the United States ended painful economic sanctions.

“Negotiations are on the table to discuss various aspects of Iran’s enrichment program. Our right to enrich is non-negotiable,” Zarif told ABC’s “This Week” program.

“We do not need military-grade uranium. That’s a certainty and we will not move in that direction,” Zarif said. “Having an Iran that does not have nuclear weapons, is not just your goal, it’s first and foremost our goal.”

Zarif said Iran was willing to have its facilities visited by international inspectors to prove it was not seeking a nuclear bomb.

“If the United States is ready to recognize Iran’s rights, to respect Iran’s rights and move from that perspective, then we have a real chance,” Zarif said.

“We are willing to engage in negotiations. The United States also needs to do things very rapidly. One is to dismantle its illegal sanctions against Iran,” he said.

Zarif dismissed to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s skeptical remarks regarding Iran’s new peaceful overtures. Netanyahu had called Rouhani’s statements at the U.N. a “sweet talk and smile offensive.”

“A smile attack is much better than a lie attack,” Zarif told ABC Television.

“Mr. Netanyahu and his colleagues have been saying since 1991, and you can check your records, that Iran is six months away from a nuclear weapon. … We are 22 years after that and they are still saying we’re six months away from a nuclear weapon,” Zarif said.

Kerry said the sanctions could be lifted after an agreement was in place that ensured Iran’s nuclear program was peaceful.

“The United States is not going to lift the sanctions until it is clear that a very verifiable, accountable, transparent process is in place, whereby we know exactly what Iran is going to be doing with its program,” he said.

Meanwhile, National Security Advisor Susan Rice told CNN’s Fareed Zakaria on Sunday that while the U.S. hopes to reach an agreement with Iran on their nuclear program, they are “quite sober about that potential for that,” noting that “the U.S.-Iranian relationship has a long way to go to get to the state of normalization.”