Oct 9, 2013 - Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon met his U.S. counterpart, Chuck Hagel, at the Pentagon on Tuesday for talks on dismantling Syria’s chemical weapons and pressure over Iran's nuclear program.
Hagel told Ya'alon during their meeting that while the United States intended to consider the prospect for a diplomatic solution regarding Iran, it remained clear-eyed about the challenges ahead and would not waver from its firm policy to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons.
Ya’alon, meanwhile, warned that the sanctions against Iran would completely collapse should the world powers agree to ease any of the measures. Plenty of interested parties would be glad to start doing business with Iran should the sanctions be lifted, Ya'alon said, which would alleviate the economic pressure while allowing the Iranians to continue enriching uranium. Ya'alon urged the United States to avoid falling into the "trap" of relieving the sanctions as a confidence-building measure until Iran has fulfilled the conditions set for it.
With regard to Syria, Ya'alon told Hagel that it was the credible military threat and existential dilemma facing Syrian President Bashar Assad that enabled him to agree to give up chemical weapons. Ya'alon added that it was necessary to keep close track of Syria’s chemical disarmament to make sure it was completed.
Hagel for his part welcomed the announcement by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons that the destruction of Syria’s chemical weapons had begun. He said that while there was more work to be done, the recent progress was a step in the right direction toward eliminating the threat.
Ya’alon and Hagel also spoke about American aid to Israel, including the arms deal that was reached during the American defense secretary's visit to Israel last April. It includes the provision of Boeing V-22 Osprey aircraft, which can land like a helicopter; Boeing’s KC-135 Stratotanker, which can refuel Ospreys and other aircraft while airborne; and advanced radar for F-15 fighter jets. According to a statement issued by the American Department of Defense, Hagel and Ya’alon also discussed progress on the United States' efforts to increase Israel’s "qualitative military edge" with advanced capabilities that Hagel announced on his visit to Israel earlier this year.
During Ya’alon’s visit to the United States, he is also expected to visit the Lockheed Martin plants in Texas, where he will examine the F-35 aircraft.
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