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. Iran playing chess in nuclear drive: Israel's Barak
JERUSALEM, April 28 (AFP) Apr 28, 2009
Iran is using the skill and sophistication of a master chess player in its controversial nuclear drive, Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak said in an interview published on Tuesday.

"The Iranians don't play backgammon, they play chess and in fact they invented the game," Barak, himself an avid chess player, said in an interview with Haaretz newspaper, referring to the Islamic republic's atomic programme.

"They are proceeding with far greater sophistication and are far more methodical," the minister said in the interview.

On February 14, Iran's parliament speaker Ali Larijani himself said that Washington must stop "boxing" with his country and instead adapt itself to a game of chess.

"In the past the United States has violated Iranian rights. It has to change its attitude regarding the Iranian people. The United States has to play chess, not box," he said.

Barak, a former premier, said he has recommended to the new US administration of President Barack Obama that any negotiations with Iran over its nuclear drive should be limited in time.

"I told them negotiations should be limited in time and have a deadline, accompanied by 'soft' sanctions such as limitations on money transfers while preparing the ground for harsh sanctions that involve authorising action afterward," he said.

"This has to be done in deep cooperation with the Russians and the Chinese and we say we are not removing any option from the table."

Israel and the United States suspect Iran of trying to develop nuclear weapons through its nuclear drive, a charge that the Iranians have vehemently denied.

The Jewish state, widely considered to be the Middle East's sole undeclared nuclear power, considers Iran its top enemy because of repeated statements by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad for Israel to be wiped off the map.

Obama has struck a softer tone toward Iran in a break from hardline of his predecessor George W. Bush.

But his Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said last Wednesday that the new administration would be prepared to push for tough new sanctions against Iran if dialogue fails.

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