I urge other leaders to follow the President’s lead and other countries to follow the U.S. lead, to adopt much tougher sanctions against Iran.
PM Netanyahu addresses National Security College commencement ceremony (27 July 2010):|
A peace agreement in and of itself does not guarantee that the peace will be kept. We had peace – we had practical peace, formal peace, informal peace – with Iran. We had peace for many years. We had trade relations with Iran, political relations, security relations, we exchanged delegations.
But this peace did not withstand the great changes that took place inside Iran under the influence of tremendous forces that are sweeping other regions as well. That is why when we talk about security being a foundation for peace – it is also a foundation for violating the peace. We must preserve our ability to defend ourselves from this possibility. In order to establish security on realistic foundations, we need to understand what endangers us.
Since the Oslo Accords, two powerful factors have joined the equation, and we must ensure that any peace agreement takes them into account and provides a solution to this problem.
The first factor is the rise of Iran and its proxies. The second is the war of missiles and rockets. We must ensure that any peace arrangements provide a solution to each of these threats because I do not want events of the past to be repeated – not those that occurred after we withdrew from Lebanon and were rewarded with a northern Iranian base with hundreds of rockets fired at Israel and increased armament in this enclave; and we don’t want a repeat of what happened in Gaza, where a southern Iranian enclave was formed, with thousands of rockets fired at Israel and increased armament.
Dep FM Ayalon meets Dominican Republic Minister of Justice (20 July 2010):
Deputy FM Ayalon emphasized his concern with Iranian penetration into South America, and said, "The Iranian nuclear program is not only Israel’s concern, but that of the entire world. The international community must continue to oppose the Iranian nuclear program." Regarding sanctions against Iran, DFM Ayalon added, "We will be able to determine if the sanctions are working within a few months."
Fox News Sunday interview with PM Netanyahu (11 Jul 2010):
Iran is closer to developing nuclear weapons today than it was a week ago or a month ago or a year ago. It’s just moving on with its efforts. And I think there is a great danger to the world, not only to my country, but to the United States, to the Middle East, to the peace, to all of humanity from the prospect that such a regime, that brutalizes its own people, that sponsors terrorism more than any other regime in the world, that this regime acquires atomic bombs is very, very dangerous.
There’s only been one time that Iran actually stopped the program and that was when it feared U.S. military action. So when the president says that he is determined to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons and that all options are on the table, I think that’s the right statement of policy.
You can’t rely on the fact that they’ll obey the calculations of cost and benefit that have governed all nuclear powers since the rise of the nuclear age after Hiroshima and Nagasaki. We’ve had effective nuclear peace for more than half a century because everybody understood the rules. I don’t think you can rely on Iran, I don’t think you can rely on other radicals like the Taliban – they dispatched al Qaeda to bomb New York and Washington.
What were they thinking? Were they that stupid? They weren’t stupid. There is an irrationality here. And there’s madness in this method. And we should not allow irrational regimes like Iran to have nuclear weapons. It’s the ultimate terrorist threat today…
The president’s position that all options are on the table might actually have the only real effect on Iran, if they think it’s true.
PM Netanyahu addresses the Council on Foreign Relations (8 Jul 2010):
… The nature of the challenge of security has changed. When the Oslo talks began, we launched the Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, there were two things that were present, The first is the rise of Iran and its proxies, and the second is the rise of missile and rocket warfare.
These two new developments pose a significant problem for Israel. We are asked to prepare to vacate territories for this type of peace. We have just done that twice. Once in Lebanon, and the areas that we vacated were very quickly taken over by Iran’s proxies, which poured rockets and missiles into them, which were later fired on us.
The second time was in Gaza, we vacated every last inch of Gaza. And that area was quickly taken over by Iran’s proxies. They poured missiles and rockets into them, and they were soon fired into Israel – 12,000 rockets and missiles in total, in an area, I think, slightly smaller than New Jersey. Now, think about that – that’s a real problem.
Now, if we’re going to have a third withdrawal, we must address the question of how to prevent this from occurring a third time. Strike one, strike two, third strike you’re out. In the case of Israel, it is a palpable strategic threat because our cities are targeted, our airfields are targeted, our military installations are targeted. We have to have a real solution to this, not a solution on paper, but a solution on the ground that actually prevents the mass smuggling of rockets, missiles and other weaponry into the areas that we vacate…
Fourteen years ago, when I came to the United States, shortly after I was first elected prime minister, I was given the honor of addressing the joint session of the U.S. Congress. And I said then that the greatest danger facing the world was a threat of Iran developing nuclear weapons. I can tell you that quite a few eyebrows were raised at the time. Far fewer are raised today. There is now a broader, and I would argue, a deeper understanding of the potential dangers of a nuclear-armed Iran. You hear it in Europe. You hear it in just about every private conversation that I or my staff have with Arab leaders and Arab officials, almost every single one. There is just about no exception.
All of these leaders understand that Iran is not merely a threat to Israel, a nuclear-armed Iran. They understand that if the world’s greatest sponsor of terror gets the world’s most dangerous weapon, it is a threat to the region and a threat to the entire world.
Now, the problem in historical circumstances is translating understanding into action. Actually, the problem in many catastrophic periods of history was that there was no understanding. That is a prelude to correct action. But once you have understanding, there’s still that gap between what is understood to be required and what is done.
I spoke with the White House about the importance of the latest round of the U.N. Security Council resolutions against Iran, as well as the recent congressional sanctions bill signed by President Obama last week. These U.N. sanctions are important because they send a message to that regime that the international community, led by President Obama, stands firmly against Iran’s nuclear program. The U.S. sanctions are important because they have more bite. And the sooner they’re implemented and the more rigorously they’re enforced, the more bite they will have. And I hope that other countries in Europe and elsewhere will follow with tough sanctions, particularly those that target Iran’s energy sector. The regime is vitally dependent on that.
But I think that we cannot be sure that these sanctions will have the necessary effect of stopping Iran’s nuclear program, and therefore I appreciated President Obama’s statement that he is determined to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons and that all options are open.
I think to fully translate understanding into actions, we must address the question of whether the world can live with a nuclear Iran. For a lot of influential people, and I suppose for some of the people here today, a nuclear-armed Iran would certainly be a danger, but perhaps I think it wouldn’t be a new danger. After all, the Soviets had nuclear weapons. They were contained. So, too, it is argued, a nuclear-armed Iran could be also contained.
But the Soviet Union is far different and was far different from what we see today in Iran. The Soviets certainly had global, ideological ambitions, but in international affairs, they acted with supreme rationality. Every time the Soviets were faced with a choice between their ideology and their survival, they chose survival: in Berlin, in Cuba and elsewhere. And to the best of my knowledge, there were not many Soviet suicide bombers.
The Iranian regime is different. They’re driven by a militant ideology that is based on an entirely different set of values, a value system that may seem entirely irrational to us but is pervasive, very powerful, among those competing for leadership among the Islamic militants.
Look at what happened nearly a decade ago in another part of this militant world. The Taliban allowed al Qaeda, operating on its soil, to dispatch terrorists to bomb New York, this city, and to bomb Washington. Now, what were they thinking? Did they think that the greatest power in the world would simply ignore mass destruction in its cities? Did they think that the United States of America would ignore an attack on its financial center, on its military headquarters, on its capital city? Were they that stupid? Or were they instead driven not by cool reason but by a fiery fanaticism that overcomes normal logics?
Iran sends children into mine fields. Iran denies the Holocaust. Iran openly calls for Israel’s destruction. Iran empowers Hizbullah with rockets and has overtaken half of Lebanon. Iran empowers Hamas with rockets, has overtaken Gaza and half of the Palestinian polity. Iran has sent saboteurs and terrorist squads into Egypt. Iran sends tentacles into the Yemen and threatens directly Saudi Arabia. Iran sends weapons into South America. This is what they do today when they don’t have nuclear weapons. Think of what they will do tomorrow when they do have them.
It is very hard for modern men and women to come to terms with the role of irrationality in human affairs. We tend to think that people and states are driven solely by interests, by a sober calculation of cost and benefit. We must recognize that those who glorify death and those who dispatch hordes of suicide bombers are not driven by grievances which can be addressed or by a despair which can be alleviated. We must recognize that there are wide-eyed true believers, even mad believers in the world. There are fanatics who subscribe to a twisted creed and they are willing to pay any price of its realization. And they are driven by a fervent hope that they will succeed at any price…
We hope that it’s possible to stop Iran’s programs by this U.S.-led effort to put maximum pressure. It so happens that the statement that the president has made that all options are on the table is probably the most effective pressure that you could direct at Iran. And I wouldn’t say any more than that. I think that’s ultimately what they look at.
And they have in the past, as you know, backed off when they thought that the U.S. would act in a more forceful way. You know what happened the only time that the Iranian program was held back, very briefly, was when they had that concern, as you know. So I wouldn’t change the statement made by the president. I think that would be a mistake.
PM Netanyahu addresses Conference of Presidents (7 Jul 2010):
The President and I discussed Iran, and he reiterated his determination to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons. We discussed the sanctions of the Security Council that formed an international consensus about the lack of legitimacy of Iran’s pursuit to develop atomic bombs. That’s important. Equally important were the sanctions that were signed by the President the other day – they have teeth. It’s important that other countries follow suit with sanctions with teeth. That means that they bite into Iran’s energy sector.
I cannot tell you that this will stop Iran’s nuclear program. I think that it’s important to understand however, that it must be stopped and I welcome the determination and the clarity that this issue that I’ve been talking about for fifteen years and it was the first thing that I discussed in my first term as Prime Minister before a joint session of the U.S. Congress. I said that there is no greater threat to humanity than the acquisition of nuclear weapons by Iran and today the greatest threat is still that the world’s most dangerous regimes acquire the world’s most dangerous weapons. This must not be allowed to happen. Iran must not be allowed to acquire nuclear weapons.
… Territories that we have vacated for the sake of peace have been taken over by Iran’s proxies and have been used as staging ground for terrorist attacks against us. We have put up fences to prevent the terrorists, the suicide bombers from getting into our areas. But Iran’s proxies poured in rockets and missiles into these areas and flew over the fence and today the problem that we face is to make sure that this does not repeat itself.
CNN Larry King Live interview with PM Netanyahu (7 Jul 2010):
… We left Lebanon, every last square inch of it. And Iran came in and used it as a staging ground to launch 6,000 rockets on Israel’s cities, 6,000. We left Gaza, last square inch, and Iran used it to arm its proxies and fired another 6,000 rockets. So we can’t afford that happening a third time…
Hamas is basically a proxy, a terror proxy of Iran. Iran openly calls for our destruction. It denies the Holocaust. It sponsors terrorism everywhere. It brutalizes its own people. Hamas, by the way, does the same thing to the Palestinians in Gaza…
KING: Mr. prime minister, Iran, how much do you fear their intentions? What’s the worst-case scenario to you?
NETANYAHU: Well, we’ve learned in history and in Jewish history to take seriously those who call for our extermination. A lot of people in the past century, the 20th century, didn’t take such calls seriously. And we know the awful price that was paid by the Jewish people and later by rest of humanity for not taking seriously these kinds of statements. The fact that after the Holocaust, a sovereign government at once denies the Holocaust and calls for the destruction of the Jewish state is just outrageous.
Do we take it seriously? Absolutely, we take it seriously. We also know that Israel was founded to defend the Jewish people. So we reserve always the right to defend ourselves.
KING: If you determined that they had nuclear capability, would you attack Iran?
NETANYAHU: You know, I’ve taken note of President Obama’s statement that he’s determined to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. I see that sanctions have been adopted, modest sanctions at the U.N. But more robust sanctions recently by the Congress was signed by the president the other day. I hope the other nations follow America’s lead in this. Will it be enough to stop the Iranian nuclear program? I can’t tell you, Larry. I do tell you that the president has said that all options are on the table. And I do tell you that Israel always reserves the right to defend itself. That’s the purpose for which it was founded, to defend Jewish lives.
KING: Israel has never said it has nuclear weapons, but the world thinks it does. Why is it OK for Israel to have nuclear weapons and Iran not to have nuclear weapons? Hypothetically, if Israel has them, why is it OK for them to have them and the other not?
NETANYAHU: Well, we said we wouldn’t be the first to introduce these weapons into the Middle East. But equally, we’re not threatening to destroy any country. We don’t seek the destruction of any country or any people. We don’t say that an entire people has to be wiped off the map of the Earth. We don’t have such intentions.
And I think all nuclear proliferation is bad. But some of it is a lot worse. It does make a difference whether Holland has nuclear weapons, or the Ayatollah regime that sponsored terrorism and calls for Israel’s destruction, whether it is nuclear weapons. And I think there’s a common understanding right now, something that I spoke about 16 years ago, 14 years – to be precise, 1996, when I was elected, 14 years ago. I spoke before the joint session of the U.S. Congress. I was just elected prime minister. And I said that the greatest threat facing humanity is that Iran would acquire nuclear weapons.
Some eyebrows were raised at the time. I can tell you, 14 years later, that most of the world’s leaders today agree with this. There is a question of the distance between understanding and effective action, and that is the ultimate test of leadership and history.
KING: Would you ban all nuclear weapons throughout the world? Would you ban nuclear weaponry entirely?
NETANYAHU: Well, that’s beyond my scope. This is a worthy cause, but it’s a very complicated issue. And I’m sure you realize that the most important thing is preventing the most dangerous weapons in the world from falling into the hands of the most dangerous regimes. And this is what we really are facing today. We’re facing the prospect that people who talk about destruction, who deny the Holocaust, who sponsor terrorism everywhere, who shoot their own citizens on the sidewalk.
Remember that young woman lying there, choking in her own blood. These people who have absolutely no inhibitions about the use of violence and brutality would acquire the weapons of mass terror, the ultimate mass terror weapons, which is atomic bombs. That’s a very, very dangerous development for all of us.
KING: Would there be any point – may sound ridiculous, but speaking is better than killing. Would there be any point for you to sit down with Ahmadinejad?
NETANYAHU: Well, if he wanted to change the policies of Iran. We used to have friendly relations with Iran. It actually recognized Israel. We had exchanges all the time. But, you know, tell me – when Ahmadinejad decides to recognize the state of Israel and seek peace with it, believe me, I’ll be there eagerly waiting. But I’m afraid I don’t see that. I see the very opposite.
PM Netanyahu CBS interview with Katie Couric (7 July 2010):
Netanyahu: I hope that other nations and other leaders follow the U.S. and President Obama’s lead and target hard sanctions against Iran’s energy sector. This regime basically lives off oil and cannot do without the import of gasoline. If all that is done, I cannot tell you now, Katie, that it would stop the Iranian nuclear program. I can tell you that Iran is a very brutal regime. It brutalizes its own people. It sponsors terrorism, left and right, against my own country, against others. And it calls for the destruction of the Jewish state. I think it should not be allowed to have nuclear weapons.
Couric: If sanctions are not effective, will Israel take matters into its own hands? Would there be a unilateral strike against Iran?
Netanyahu: I’ve taken note of President Obama’s statement, which he reiterated to me in this visit that the United States is determined to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. That all options are on the table. And I respect that. We obviously prefer that the international action led by the United States succeed. Israel was founded to protect Jewish lives. That’s really what the tragedy of the Jewish people before the State of Israel was that we had no ability to defend ourselves. We always reserve the right of self-defense.
PM Netanyahu after meeting with US President Obama (6 July 2010):
The greatest new threat on the horizon and the single most dominant issue for many of us is the prospect that Iran would acquire nuclear weapons. Iran is brutally terrorizing its people, spreading terrorism far and wide. And I very much appreciate the President’s statement that he is determined to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. That has been translated by the President into his leadership at the Security Council, which passed sanctions against Iran; by the U.S. bill that the President signed just a few days ago. And I urge other leaders to follow the President’s lead and other countries to follow the U.S. lead, to adopt much tougher sanctions against Iran, primarily those directed against its energy sector….
I think the latest sanctions adopted by the U.N. create illegitimacy or create delegitimization for Iran’s nuclear program. And that is important. I think the sanctions the President signed the other day actually have teeth. They bite. The question is, how much do you need to bite, is something I cannot answer now. But if other nations adopted similar sanctions, that would increase the effect.
The more like-mined countries join in the American-led effort that President Obama has signed into act – into law, I think, the better we’ll be able to give you an answer to your question.