Press Conference with Israeli Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz (Excerpts)

January 26, 2005

Israeli Defence Minister Shaul Mofaz met with communal leaders and representatives of British and Arab media as part of his two days' visit to London. After a meeting with his British counterpart Geoffrey Hoon, he will meet Prime Minister Tony Blair tomorrow (27/1) and will represent the State of Israel in the remembrance ceremony for 60 years of the liberation of Auschwitz in Westminster Hall.

In his meetings, Mofaz welcomed the recent decisions taken by Abu Mazen, defining them as "positive steps". He stated that by the end of 2005, Israel wants to leave all Palestinian towns and added the terror organizations have a policy of attacking places symbolic for Israeli-Palestinian cooperation. He referred to the Iranian threat, noting that within a year Tehran will reach "the point of no return" in its race for a nuclear bomb, creating a risk to the free world. Mofaz also noted that the diplomatic channel is the right one to stop Iran's nuclear ambitions.

Please find below an informal transcript of Minister Mofaz's statements made to journalists

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Iran: If it achieves a nuclear power it will create a threat to the free world

I would like to say a few words about the Iranian threat. I believe it is the main threat that will exist not only against the State of Israel but also against the western countries. We know that Iran has a very high desire to achieve the goal of possessing nuclear power. The fact that in Iran there is an extreme regime and that they already have already long-range surface-to-surface missiles, means that having a nuclear power will create a threat to the free world. I believe that the dialogue and negotiations that took place between the European countries, the troika and the Iranians had some achievements by the suspension of the Iranian military nuclear programme. But the goal should be a full stop to the nuclear programme and the way to stop this is with the leadership of the US and the Europeans countries taking this issue to the UN and using first the diplomatic channel. The tools should be sanctions and a very deep inspection in all the nuclear locations in Iran with a full transparency. Iran is very close to the point of no return, which means the enrichment of uranium, and we believe that the leadership of the US together with the European countries should stop as soon as possible this military nuclear program in Iran.