Israeli Leader Talks Iran, Syria, U.S. Relations

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WASHINGTON -- From the looming threat of a nuclear Iran to tensions with the Obama administration, Israel is facing difficult times.

As the Jewish state's top diplomat in Washington, D.C., Michael Oren deals with these challenges and more on a daily basis.

Prior to taking on his current role as Israel's ambassador to the U.S., Oren wrote two bestselling books on Middle East history.

He says any future history books written about the region won't include a nuclear-armed Iran.

"We do not believe that Israel could co-exist with a nuclear Iran," Oren told CBN News recently in an exclusive interview. "We don't believe that many Middle Eastern states could co-exist with a nuclear Iran. We don't believe the world can co-exist with a nuclear Iran."

Oren: Nuke Containment Won't Work

Oren believes the Cold War strategy of nuclear containment would not work with the Iranian regime.

One reason -- the Iranians would share their arsenal with their terrorist proxies like Hezbollah.

"We think it's a very high probability," Oren said. "It's not just a concern. It is a working assumption of the state of Israel. To be fair, not just the state of Israel. I think the United States government shares our estimates in this manner and our very, very deep anxieties."

Hezbollah owns a growing stockpile of approximately 60,000 rockets aimed at Israel.

Many of those rockets were supplied by Syria -- an Iranian ally that the Obama administration is currently trying to engage.

"The Syrians have done absolutely nothing to warrant a better relationship with anybody," Oren said. "We think the Syrians, on the contrary, have created a dangerous situation in the Middle East. They've acted recklessly.

White House Pushes Nuke-Free Mideast

The U.S. has long supported Israel's stance of neither confirming nor denying whether it possess nuclear weapons.

However, the Obama administration raised eyebrows recently with its support for a nuclear weapons free zone in the Middle East. International pressure is also mounting for such a move.

"The achievement of that great goal can only come at the end of a process, not at the beginning of the process" Oren told CBN News. "And that is a process of direct negotiations between Israel and all Middle Eastern states culminating in a comprehensive peace. At which point all arsenals of missiles, of weapons of mass destruction, can be eliminated."

Israel-U.S. Relations Improving

Oren said that despite recent tensions over construction in Jewish neighborhoods in Jerusalem, Israel's relationship with the Obama administration is improving.

He added that both sides support the current proximity talks between Israel and the Palestinians -- in which one city will be on everyone's lips -- Jerusalem.

"The policy of the government of Israel is the same policy of every government of Israel, going back to 1967," Oren said. "And that is, Jerusalem would remain the undivided capital of the Jewish people, the eternal capital of the Jewish people."

A Unique Perspective

Oren grew up in New Jersey and attended school in the U.S. before moving to Israel as a young man.

Having one foot in America and another in Israel has given him a unique perspective in his current role.

"Taking up this position was the realization of a lifelong dream," he said. "To be able to serve as the nexus, the bridge, between the land of my birth and my childhood to my ancient homeland, the country of my people."

It's a bond he's helping to preserve against a growing host of threats.

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CBN News
Erick Stakelbeck

Erick Stakelbeck

CBN News Correspondent

Erick Stakelbeck is a sought after authority on terrorism and national security issues with extensive experience in television, radio, and print media. Stakelbeck is a correspondent and terrorism analyst for CBN News.  Follow Erick on Twitter @Staks33.