Iran is working everywhere to undermine peace and stability. It operates in Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen, Lebanon, Gaza, and Africa. It is also developing the capability to threaten Europe.
PM Netanyahu at joint press conference with German Chancellor Merkel (31 Jan 2011):
There are forces that seek to undermine peace, primarily the regime of the Ayatollahs in Tehran. Iran is working everywhere to undermine peace and stability. It operates in Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen, Lebanon, Gaza, and Africa. It is also developing the capability to threaten Europe. If this is what Iran is doing in the absence of nuclear weapons, imagine the enormous threat it would pose if it had such weapons in its possession.
Therefore, the effort to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear capabilities is an effort of peace, stability and responsibility, and I want to commend Chancellor Merkel for her clear, consistent and firm stand on this issue, a stand which is necessary now more than ever because Iran is sending a message to the international community, a very clear message that it has no intention of abandoning its ambitions to develop nuclear weapons.
That is why I think the international community must send an equally clear message that it is determined to thwart those ambitions, first of all by tightening the sanctions. I think it is important. I have talked about it many times. But in order for these sanctions to convince Iran to abandon its nuclear weapons program, Iran must know that if the sanctions fail, there is also another option, and the more credible that option is, the less likely it is that the international community will have to resort to it.
I told chancellor Merkel that in the 16 years during which I have talked about Iran’s nuclear weapons, there was only one year in which Iran actually halted its nuclear program, and that was in 2003, when it believed that the United States would resort to that other option. I believe that if the international community exercised judgment, showed determination and joined forces to ward off the threats to us all and to promote the peace we all strive for, we can succeed even in these difficult times.
PM Netanyahu at annual meeting with members of the international press in Israel (11 Jan 2011):
2009 was a year in which Iran was unmasked and that unmasking continued in 2010. People witnessed the brutal nature of this regime in the wake of its elections and Iran was caught red-handed building a nuclear facility, a secret nuclear facility in Qom. And of course I think that in the parting year, people also understood the danger that such a regime would pose if it possessed nuclear weapons. I think that’s become part of the international understanding of very broad segments of the world community.
Now 2010 was the year in which the international community began to take action based on this understanding. The first significant action was the sanctions of the UN Security Council led by the United States and I think President Obama and Secretary Clinton should be congratulated for pushing this as well as advancing sanctions outside the United Nations – tougher sanctions – by the US, by the Europeans and by others. And there’s no question that these questions have put real economic pressure on Iran. They’ve put significant pressure on the banking system; they forced Iran to cut subsidies. I can tell you, I cut subsidies as Finance Minister. It’s not an easy thing to do.
And there’s no question that all these things have caused hardship, but they have not in any way altered Iran’s determination to pursue its nuclear program. They’re determined to move ahead despite every difficulty, every obstacle, every setback to create nuclear weapons. And since the purpose of the sanctions is to change that determination, those sanctions have not yet achieved their objective. So I think they should be strictly enforced and I think they should be materially strengthened.
Now I said two months ago that the only chance that these sanctions would achieve their objectives would be to couple them with an understanding from Iran that no matter what, they’ll be followed – that is if they don’t achieve their goal they’ll be followed by a credible military option. I said that because in the many years that I’ve been talking about this and that Iran has been pursuing its nuclear weapons program, there was only one respite, there was a momentary pause, in 2003 when Iran thought that there was a credible military option from the United States, it temporarily suspended its nuclear weapons program. I believe that today the same is true. They will only stop going through the hardship of economic pain and all the dislocations that the sanctions cause in Iran if they thought it was useless, if they thought that there would be this credible military option at the end of the tunnel, so to speak.
So I think this is a prerequisite to make it clear and the paradox is that if there is a credible military option, you won’t have to use it.