With London’s subway tunnels still smoldering from Thursday’s explosions, Israel’s finance minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, used his address at a London conference to warn the West that Iran’s continued progress toward nuclear weapons could one day provide radical Islamic groups with “a nuclear umbrella” to cover their terrorist acts.
Netanyahu said the West must do more to oppose Tehran’s growing nuclear threat, particularly following June’s election of hardliner Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as president.
“The Iranian regime supports terror, both ideologically and operationally,” he said. “I think the regime will go as fast as it can to develop nuclear weapons, regardless of who leads it.”
The former prime minister went beyond the direct threat an atomic Iran could pose by noting Tehran could be in a position to provide cover – “a nuclear umbrella” – for terrorist groups like Hezbollah and Hamas, the London Times reported.
Netanyahu called for cancellation of planned shipments of Russian nuclear equipment and nuclear fuel to Iran’s Bushehr plant, still under construction.
“This is not an Israel problem – this is a world problem that concerns everybody, including Russia,” he said. “There has to be a common solution here: first to prevent the transfer of nuclear technology or fuel, secondly to punish regimes that deviate from this and, thirdly, to put pressure on the Iranian regime, in all avenues possible, to stop this program.”
When asked if a military response would be required to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons, Netanyahu answered, “I don’t know. I am not aware of any plans, but that doesn’t mean they don’t exist, for example in America.”
Noting Libya’s decision to shut down it’s own nuclear program after the U.S. attacked Iraq, the finance minister said, “The deterrent effect has worked on some, but so far has not worked on others,” he said.