Jerusalem: Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak has asked the US to work towards halting North Korea`s nuclear weapons programme before Iran`s, as the move would have a big influence on the Islamic republic.
“North Korea is developing long-range missiles in the backyard of China and Russia and nothing happens to them,” The Jerusalem Post quoted Barak, as saying.
“When the Iranian leadership asks themselves, ``Should we be worried or just go through the ritual of defying and cheating?`` the answer depends on what happens to North Korea. A coherent move toward blocking nuclear proliferation should start with North Korea. It would have very positive ramifications for blocking Iran,” he said.
Barak, who is scheduled to meet US Secretary of Defence Robert Gates this week, said he was opposed to comparing the Iranian threat to the Holocaust era.
"I don`t buy the relevance of comparing the situation with that of Europe in 1938. Then, the hope for a normal Jew looking into the future was to flee. We are not in such a situation. We can defend ourselves against any kind of threat,” he said in an interview with the New York Times.
On Thursday, Barak had said that Iran did not pose an existential threat to Israel.
"I am not among those who believe Iran is an existential issue for Israel. Israel is strong, I don`t see anyone who could pose an existential threat," he said.
On the resumption of the Middle East peace process, Barak appeared to be pessimistic, despite the announcement of tripartite meeting between Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and US President Barack Obama.
"I fear the Palestinians are going to miss a huge opportunity. There is a President who says determinedly, ``I am going to put my political capital into making sure there is an independent Palestinian state and solve all the core issues in two years.`` If we bear in mind Israel`s security needs and the demand that a final agreement means an end to the conflict, this is an opportunity that must not be missed," he said.