Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and Nicholas Maduro, president of Venezuela, a friend of the Islamic Republic. (AP/Iranian Presidency Office, Mohammad Berno) (AP/Iranian Presidency Office, Mohammad Berno)
Rouhani and Maduro
Israel and Cyprus Defense Ministers

Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon (L) with Cypriot DM Christoforos Fokaides in Cyprus on Wednesday. (Petros Karadjias/AP)

Iran, the anchor of a “dangerous axis,” is building a complex global terror network with sleeper cells ready to act on demand, Israel’s Defense Minister said after meeting with his Cypriot counterpart, Christoforos Fokaides.

Israel’s defense minister on Wednesday accused Iran of building an international terror network with “sleeper cells” that are stockpiling arms, intelligence and operatives in order to strike on command, including in Europe and the U.S.

Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon said Iran aims to destabilize the Middle East and other parts of the world and is training, funding and arming “emissaries” to spread a revolution. Tehran is the anchor of a “dangerous axis” that includes Baghdad, Damascus, Beirut, Sana’a and other cities in the region, he added.

“The Iranian regime through the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps is building a complex terror infrastructure, including sleeper cells that are stockpiling arms, intelligence and operatives and are ready to act on order, including in Europe and America,” Ya’alon said after talks with his Cypriot counterpart, Christoforos Fokaides.

Israel considers Iran the biggest threat to the region, citing its support for anti-Israel terrorist groups like Hezbollah and Hamas, and has been an outspoken critic of the international nuclear deal with Iran.

Ya’alon referred indirectly to the case of a Hezbollah member who was jailed in Cyprus last June following the seizure of nine tons of a chemical compound that could be converted into an explosive.

Ya'alon in Cyprus

Israeli Minister of Defense Moshe Ya’alon in Cyprus on Wednesday. (Ariel Hermoni/Ministry of Defense)

A Cypriot court sentenced Lebanese Canadian Hussein Bassam Abdallah to six years in prison after prosecutors said he admitted that Hezbollah aimed to mount terrorist attacks against Israeli interests in Cyprus, using the ammonium nitrate that he had been ordered to guard at the Larnaca home of another official of the Iranian-backed group.

Ya’alon said Cypriot authorities had “defeated attempts by Hezbollah and Iran to establish a terror infrastructure” on the island that aimed to expand “throughout Europe.”

Apart from the refugee crisis, the war in Syria has resulted in “widespread infiltration by murderous, merciless terror organizations” that belong to global jihad and are partly funded by Iran, which, he continued, requires Western nations to counter attempts to carry out “massive terror attacks.”

Obama Downplayed Iranian Threat

In May, US President Barack Obama, in an interview with The Atlantic, rejected the opinion that the nuclear agreement with Iran would spark a Middle East arms race and free up significant funds for Iran’s proxies. He also denied that criticizing Israel represented a weakening of bilateral relations.


US President Barack Obama listens as Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi speaks in May at news conference on Iranian sanctions. (AP/Susan Walsh)

Obama also maintained in the interview that Israel would not be threatened by the Islamic Republic. “At the margins, where the costs are low, they [Iranians] may pursue policies based on hatred [of Jews] as opposed to self-interest. But the costs here are not low, and what we’ve been very clear [about] to the Iranian regime over the past six years is that we will continue to ratchet up the costs, not simply for their anti-Semitism, but also for whatever expansionist ambitions they may have. That’s what the sanctions represent. That’s what the military option I’ve made clear I preserve represents.”

Yaalon’s trip to Cyprus was the first official visit by an Israeli defense minister to the east Mediterranean island.

By: AP and United with Israel Staff

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