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Israeli Deputy Minister of Diplomacy, Michael Oren, on Iran, Syria and North Korea

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The transcript:

HH: From New York City, where the United Nations General Assembly, UNGA, is in session in the United States, the deputy minister of diplomacy for Israel, Dr. Michael Oren, joins me. Minister Oren, welcome back to the Hugh Hewitt Show, great to have you.

MO: Good morning, Hugh, always good to be with you.

HH: My colleague, Chuck Todd, sat down yesterday with Rouhani of Iran, and a very informative interview, because Rouhani basically told the Americans that they are still on the not friendly list with Iran, and we owe them money. And it was basically an in your face interview that Chuck communicated to the American people.

MO: No surprise.

HH: Have we defined diplomatic deviancy down? Yeah, what is with the normalizing of Iran? They’re not a normal regime.

MO: They are not a normal regime. They are the world’s largest state sponsor of terror. They are a regime that hangs gay people. They are a regime that seeks to destroy the state of Israel, makes no case to dissemble it. They deny the Holocaust. They have an annual Holocaust denial festival. How normal is that?

HH: Well, that’s, when Chuck sat down, I’m glad he did, because Rouhani sort of displayed this indifference to fact and to diplomacy that defines Iran. But I am curious whether you’re frustrated as an historian and as a minister in the government of Israel with the fact that the world seems to have said oh, okay, let’s make Iran part of the club regardless of how weird they are.

MO: I’m saddened, I must say, and as a father and grandfather of children and grandchildren in the state of Israel, I’m frightened. We’re a year into this nuclear deal, which is going to take ten years. And the nuclear deal somehow predicated on the assumption that the Iranian regime once engaged, once enticed, will moderate. But we’ve seen exactly the opposite.

HH: Yup.

MO: In engaged, it has become increasingly radical, and not only against Israel and other pro-American countries in the Middle East and beyond, look at the provocative actions against the American fleet in the Persian Gulf where you have these missile boats which could be suicide boats approaching American destroyers in a very provocative way, ballistic missile tests in flagrant violation of U.N. sanctions and resolutions. They write on the missiles in Hebrew, Hugh, Israel must be destroyed. This is not a normal regime. This is an abnormal regime.

HH: What are they trying to provoke?

MO: This is an irrational regime?

HH: Minister Oren, what are they trying to provoke with the boats with the missiles? What do they want us to do? Are they trying to start a war?

MO: They are showing us who’s boss, the West, showing the United States who’s boss, and they’re always pushing the outer rim of the envelope. Now they’re pushing the outer rim of the envelope well, perhaps, well, perhaps, maintaining the terms of the nuclear treaty. But they’re showing their true face, and they’re saying basically we, and I speak here for the entire Israeli security establishment, there’s no big difference here. There are those who will say that Iran will try to cheat, try to get away with violations of the security, of the nuclear deal in an incremental way, a little bit of cheating every year, not enough to provoke a major reaction from the world, or those in the Israeli security establishment who say no, Iran won’t cheat, will actually scrupulously maintain the terms of the treaty until it expires. And when it expires, Iran can make not one nuclear weapon, it can make many nuclear weapons. Israel’s position has always been tie the nuclear deal to Iranian behavior.

HH: Right.

MO: Yes, we had differences over the nature of the deal, the actual terms of the deal. But the essential difference was over the lack of any connection between the nuclear treaty and Iranian behavior, and Iranian behavior is outrageous.

HH: I’m talking with Minister Oren of Israel. He is also the author of Ally. We have a minute left, Michael Oren. What is the relationship between Iran and North Korea? Is it full and flourishing at this point?

MO: Well, I can’t go into it in too much detail, but you have to assume that there is a close working relationship. You have to assume. And there’s been, there has been evidence that have pointed to that. I’ll give you one well-known example. The North Koreans were deeply involved with Syria, and the attempt by Syria back in 2007 to build a nuclear program. And you know, fortunately, that nuclear program was prevented from developing by a certain country, we don’t know which. But Syria, of course, the regime of Bashar al-Assad, is a very, very close ally of Iran. So connect the dots.

HH: Very, very good news that that unnamed regime got rid of that facility. Dr. Michael Oren, Minister of Israel, thank you for joining me, good luck at the UNGA.

End of interview.


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