Barak predicts fall of ayatollahs

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Iran’s clerical regime is waning but would be boosted by gaining nuclear weapons, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak said.

Addressing a Vienna conference Sunday, Barak repeated calls for world powers to crack down on Iran’s nuclear program with "paralyzing" sanctions.

"This regime in Iran, the ayatollahs, they will not be there, I believe, in 10 or 15 years. It is against the nature of the Iranian people and what happens all around the world," he said.

"But if they turn nuclear they might assure another layer of immunity, political immunity for the regime in the same way that Kim Jong-il assured his," Barak added, referring to the leader of North Korea.

Student-led protests erupted in Iran following the disputed 2009 re-election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, but since then have been mostly suppressed. Barak voiced hope that the anti-regime demonstrations of the Arab Spring would "jump" over the Persian Gulf into Iran.

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