Israel's ambassador to the UN warned of Iran's plans in Syria, the region and world
Danon claimed there are 82,000 fighters "directly under Iranian authority in Syria"
Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations, Danny Danon, told a UN Security Council meeting that he was revealing classified information about Iran to convey what he claimed are Iran’s plans to dominate Syria, destroy Israel and “terrorize the entire free world.”
“Iran is turning the entire country of Syria into the largest military base in the world. In fact, Iran is trying to destabilize all aspects of Syria,” Danon said.
Danon also criticized the international agreement that eased sanctions on Tehran in return for curbs on its nuclear program, and implied that European nations now doing business with Iran are enabling its aggression.
Iran’s goals, Danon said, are, “first, destroy Israel … second … destabilize the region.” But after that, Danon said, “it is aiming for the entire world. The entire international community should be concerned about Iran.” Even though Iran is targeting Israel first, the Israeli envoy said, “it is you who are next.”
Iran’s ambassador to the UN pushed back, alleging that the US and Israel are responsible for the region’s destabilization.
The “US and the Israeli regime prefer to resort, promote and spread Iran-phobia and this has become a kind of ongoing obsession and hysteria for them,” Ambassador Gholamali Khoshroo said. “We have heard them today and in course of this debate and in recent months. This hysteria is being actively perpetuated by those willing to sell or spend their dollars on American ‘beautiful weapons.’ It has nothing to do with peace and security in the Middle East.”
Khoshroo also pointed to Israel’s settlement construction in the Palestinian territories as well as its suspected nuclear and chemical weapons programs.
“Surprisingly and shamelessly, this regime seeks the sympathy by claiming that it is in fact the one, and not the Palestinians, that is under threat,” Khoshroo said. “No political theater may hide Israeli policies of incremental aggressive … expansion and its behavior towards its neighbors as the main source of threat to the peace and security in this region,” he said.
In a session that was meant to be a discussion of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, Danon focused exclusively on Iran.
He started in dramatic fashion, telling the Security Council that he would, “share with you classified information that shows the extent of Iran’s military build-up in Syria.”
There are 82,000 fighters “directly under Iranian authority in Syria,” Danon said, including 3,000 members of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, 9,000 members of Hezbollah and 10,000 members of “violent Shiia militias recruited from across the Mideast, including Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan,” he said.
In addition, Danon said that Iran “directly commands” 60,000 local Syrian fighters.
“These are hard facts that cannot be disrupted. Iran’s military is actively training these militant extremists and its using Syria as its strategic base,” Danon said.
He added that Iran is “also building missile factories in Syria,” and said Israel’s attitude toward it’s northern border is that “we can no longer distinguish between Iran and Syria.”
“The Iranians themselves claim that ISIS in Syria is on the run,” Danon said. “So why does Iran keep recruiting these extremists to be killed in the battlefields of Syria? Why is Iran building bases to house these fighters for the long run? The answer is clear: to further destabilize Syria and our region, to further threaten Israel and to further terrorize the entire free world.”
Danon also implied that Europe is enabling in Iran’s growing military presence by engaging in trade with Tehran, one result of the international nuclear deal reached by the Obama administration and the governments of the United Kingdom, Russia, France, China, Germany and the European Union.
In prepared remarks, Danon said that Iran has only increased its military spending since the pact was signed in 2015.
“In 2014, seventeen percent of Iran’s government spending went to its military expenditure,” he said. “This past year, in 2017, this number ballooned to twenty-two percent. That’s $23 billion spent on missiles, arms and other weapons of war.”
He also said that, “Iran has nearly doubled its trade with Europe this year … this is a mistake.”
“While you are making a profit, Iran is building an empire,” he said.
European diplomats point out that trade has indeed increased, but from tiny amounts to only slightly larger amounts.
CNN’s Kristina Sgueglia and Richard Roth contribued to this report