Washington, March 4 - The U.S. is committed to Israel’s security in the face of the threat posed by a nuclear Iran, Israeli President Shimon Peres said Sunday.
“The United States and Israel share the same goal - to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon,” he told delegates to the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) policy conference during its opening plenary less than an hour before President Barack Obama spoke.
“There is no space between us.”
Peres is being honored for lifetime achievement at the AIPAC policy conference, and attendees at the conference watched a documentary about his work promoting Arab-Israeli peace. More than 13,000 delegates are attending the confab that runs from Sunday until Tuesday. The focus at the conference is largely on the existential threat posed by a nuclear Iran to Israel.
Iran is under United Nation and other international sanctions because of its refusal to open its nuclear facilities to inspection. Tehran claims its nuclear program is for civilian purposes, but a previous IAEA report last year concluded Iran was also carrying out actions that could only be related to the development of nuclear bombs.
Amid debate about the current state of the U.S.-Israel ties, Peres gave a full-throated defense of the Obama administration’s handling of Iran and its relationship with the Israeli leadership.
“President Obama is leading and implementing an international complex and decisive policy, imposing economic and political sanctions against Iran,” Peres said. “President Obama made it clear that the U.S. will not permit Iran to become nuclear.”
The Israeli President also said the strength of the bilateral relationship was unprecedented and had reached its “highest level.”
Peres said Israel was not looking to initiate a war, but would confront Iran if necessary.
“Israel experienced the horrors of war. It does not seek it. Peace is always our first option,” he said.
After AIPAC, Peres is headed to the West Coast where he will inaugurate a new Facebook page devoted to peace with Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg. “We have to reach out to the young generation in the Arab world, to those who strive for freedom, democracy and peace,” Peres said during his speech.