Germany must lead Iran pressure, summit told

By Toby Axelrod, May 9, 2008

Israel is on the brink of a decision similar to the one it faced 60 years ago and should be prepared to go it alone unless the world helps pressure Iran to drop its nuclear ambitions.

So argued those at a conference in Berlin last weekend.

Germany, as Iran’s biggest trading partner in Europe, must lead in turning up the heat, some argued. Not only was Israel’s future at stake, but that of the Middle East and Europe. “Israel is facing an existential decision on the same level with the 1948 decision of Ben-Gurion to declare the independence of Israel at all odds,” author Yossi Melman said, adding that strategic strikes against nuclear installations must be considered if sanctions fail.

Several speakers emphasised that they did not trust Iran’s assurances about its nuclear ambitions. They suggested that Chancellor Angela Merkel, though well-meaning, was stymied by opposition from Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier.

They also criticised Prime Minister Ehud Olmert for failing publicly to press Ms Merkel on the matter during her March visit.

Last updated: 12:36pm, May 16 2008