Amid implicit scathing criticism of current U.S. foreign policy, former U.S. Secretary of State George P. Shultz on Monday said that Iranian threats against Israel should in no way be underestimated.

Speaking at a gala hosted by the World Jewish Congress in New York, Shultz said of the Iranians, "Every other day they say they want to destroy Israel. I think we should take them at their word; that's what they want to do."

When you look at Iran, he added, "You see a country which obviously wants to get a nuclear weapon."

The elder statesman, who was presented the WJC's Theodor Herzl Award at the event, said the Middle East is facing "a deeply threatening set of problems," adding, "Israel I believe is threatened."

He called for the U.S. to return to a leadership role in the region and to regain "credibility" and "trust" around the world.

"When you make empty threats, your credibility disappears," he said. "We've got to get our credibility back."

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