In speech to the European Parliament Tuesday morning, Shimon Peres warns that time is running out to curtail Iran’s nuclear ambitions and went on stressing the need of ensuring Syrian biological weapons don’t fall into the hands of terrorist groups.
President Shimon Peres called on the European Union to list Hezbollah as a terrorist organization, in an address to the European Parliament in Strasburg on Tuesday.
Peres appealed to the Europeans to recognize terror for what it is, and to save Lebanon from such “terrorist madness”.
Hezbollah, he said, has not only divided Lebanon religiously, politically and ethnically, it is carrying out terror attacks and threatening the stability of the entire region.
“Recently, 20 terror attempts by Hezbollah were counted all over the world, in India, Thailand, Georgia, South Africa, the US, Egypt and Greece, among others,” said Peres, adding that last month, Bulgaria, a member of the EU, identified Hezbollah as responsible for the terror attack in Burgas that killed five Israeli tourists and a Bulgarian citizen.
He also noted Cyprus recently arrested a member of Hezbollah suspected of planning an attack.
Peres also warned the European Union of Iran, who he says is destroying Lebanon by supporting Hezbollah. “The greatest danger to peace in the world is the present Iranian regime,” he said.
Dismissing Iran’s denial that it is building a nuclear weapon, Peres asserted that “a nuclear bomb in the hands of an irresponsible regime is an imminent danger to the world.”
He commended the European Union and the United States for imposing economic sanctions on Iran, and for making it clear that if the Iranians did not respond to such sanctions then there are other options on the table.
Peres also warned that in addition to the nuclear bomb, Iran is constructing long-range missiles equipped with nuclear warheads that can reach the far corners of the world, including Europe.
Reminding his audience that the Grand Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has declared that religion prohibits the production and use of nuclear arms, Peres questioned why then is Iran building missiles capable of carrying nuclear warheads.
Aside from controlling the production of highly enriched uranium and the production of missiles capable of carrying nuclear warheads, there is also a need to control the means of delivery, he stressed.
Drawing on the effectiveness of the US placing the issue of human rights within the Soviet Union at the top of the world’s agenda during the Helsinki conference in 1975, Peres called for the rise of a clear moral voice against the Iranian regime, to “encourage the Iranian people in their fight for freedom” and “their struggle against misery.”
Peres described the regime as “a dictatorship cloaked in a religious mantle,” adding that Iran has “developed an imperial appetite.” Nobody threatens Iran, he said, but Iran threatens others, endangering the independence of Arab countries and menacing the mere existence of Israel.
Peres, who began his address telling of how most of the inhabitants of the town in which he was born were burned alive in 1942, was indignant that the Iranians continue to deny the Holocaust while calling for another one.
“Had my family delayed their emigration by eight years, we would have been exterminated,” said Peres, whose immediate family left Europe in 1934. Emphasizing that six million Jews had been murdered on European soil, and looking back at a thousand years of a Jewish presence in Europe, Peres highlighted that while more Jews had lived in Europe than in any other continent, “alas, more Jews were murdered in Europe in the last hundred years than in the preceding two thousand years.”
It was in Europe, he said that Jews experienced the worst tragedy in their history. Nonetheless, he did not forget to mention the righteous among the nations who “carried candles of light in the darkness”.
Peres also charged Iran with smuggling arms into many countries in order to undermine their stability, and supporting terrorism in other parts of the world.
“The free world cannot stand by as terror imposes its grip onto any part of the world,” Peres insisted. “It cannot stand by when a massacre is carried out by the Syrian president against his own people and his own children. It breaks all our hearts.”
Recalling Assad’s nuclear installation and his arsenal of chemical weapons, Peres said “While the nuclear installation was destroyed in time, the chemical arms remain in his hands to this very day, threatening not only the Syrian people, but the entire region and even Europe.”
He stressed the concern over chemical weapons falling into the wrong hands, and urged that everything possible be done to prevent this.
While realizing any intervention of Western forces risks being perceived as foreign interference, he suggested the Arab League to intervene.
“The Arab League can and should form a provisional government in Syria to stop the massacre, to prevent Syria from falling to pieces,” he said, adding “The United Nations should support an Arab force in blue helmets.”
Peres expressed optimism regarding the Palestinians, stating “the peace process with the Palestinians already has an agreed beginning and an agreed solution: two states for two nations. An Arab state, Palestine, and a Jewish state, Israel, living in peace, security and economic cooperation,” adding that the remaining disputed issues “can and should be negotiated”.
View original Jerusalem Post publication at: http://www.jpost.com/DiplomacyAndPolitics/Article.aspx?id=306159