Iran, the world’s leading sponsor of terror, and a notorious violator of fundamental human rights, stands on the verge of acquiring nuclear weapons.
Address by PM Olmert to a Joint Meeting of the US Congress – 24 May 2006
Iran, the world’s leading sponsor of terror, and a notorious violator of fundamental human rights, stands on the verge of acquiring nuclear weapons. With these weapons, the security of the entire world is put in jeopardy. We deeply appreciate America’s leadership on this issue and the strong bipartisan conviction that a nuclear-armed Iran is an intolerable threat to the peace and security of the world. It cannot be permitted to materialize. This Congress has proven its conviction by initiating the Iran Freedom and Support Act. We applaud these efforts.
A nuclear Iran means a terrorist state could achieve the primary mission for which terrorists live and die: the mass destruction of innocent human life. This challenge, which I believe is the test of our rime, is one the West cannot afford to fail.
The radical Iranian regime has declared the United States its enemy. Their President believes it is his religious duty and his destiny to lead his country in a violent conflict against the infidels. With pride he denies the Jewish Holocaust and speaks brazenly, calling to wipe Israel off the map. For us, this is an existential threat. A threat to which we cannot consent. But it is not Israel’s threat alone. It is a threat to all those committed to stability in the Middle East and the well being of the world at large.
Our moment is NOW. History will judge our generation by the actions we take NOW – by our willingness to stand up for peace and security and freedom, and by our courage to do what is right. The international community will be measured not by its intentions but by its results. The international community will be judged by its ability to convince nations and peoples to turn their backs on hatred and zealotry. If we don’t take Iran’s bellicose rhetoric seriously now, we will be forced to take its nuclear aggression seriously later.
Joint press conference: Pres Bush and PM Olmert – 23 May 2006
The Iranian regime, which calls for Israel’s destruction, openly denies the Holocaust, and views the United States as its enemy, makes every effort to implement its fundamentalist religious ideology and blatantly disregards the demands of the international community. The Iranian threat is not only a threat to Israel, it is a threat to the stability of the Middle East and the entire world. And it could mark the beginning of a dangerous and irresponsible arms race in the Middle East.
Mr. President, we appreciate your efforts to curb Iran’s nuclear ambitions, including through the U.N. Security Council. They are of crucial importance. The international community cannot tolerate a situation where a regime with a radical ideology and a long tradition of irresponsible conduct becomes a nuclear weapons state. This is a moment of truth. It is still not too late to prevent it from happening.
Obviously, there is a major threat posed by the Iranians and their attempts to have non-conventional capabilities and also to build up delivery systems and the ballistic missiles that can hit major centers all across Europe, not just in the Middle East. This is something that needs to be stopped. We discussed this issue at length, and there is a total agreement and understanding between the President and myself that there is a need to stop it. And we reviewed the different ways how to do it, and I am very satisfied with what I heard from the President and on what we agreed that we would continue to do in order to achieve this goal.
CNN interview with PM Ehud Olmert – 21 May 2006
WOLF BLITZER, HOST: I want to start with the situation involving Iran and its nuclear ambitions. What’s Israel’s estimate? How much longer before Iran has a nuclear bomb?
PM OLMERT: The issue of Iran is a very serious one. And the question is not when, technically, they will be in possession of nuclear bomb. The question is when will they cross the technological line that will allow them at any given time, within six or eight months, to have nuclear bomb? And this technological threshold is nearer than we anticipated before. This is because they are already engaged very seriously in enrichment. So in other words, we are close enough to the possible possession of a nuclear weapon by the most extreme fundamentalist government, which talks openly and publicly about the wiping out of the State of Israel. That’s where we are.
BLITZER: Well, what does that mean in terms of the time line? Do you believe it’s months away, years away from crossing that technological threshold, as you say?
PM OLMERT: The technological threshold is very close. It can be measured by months rather than years.
BLITZER: So what does that mean from Israel’s perspective? A lot of us remember the Israeli action in 1981 against the Iraqi nuclear reactor, the facility at Osirak. You remember that Israeli strike. Is Israel planning a preemptive strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities?
PM OLMERT: At that time, you’ll remember that most of the international community, including your country, were entirely unaware of the danger of Iraq and of the possible nuclear weapons possessed by Iraq. And therefore, at that time, when we sensed that the international community is not aware, we were left with no other option but to attack Iraq ourselves.
Now there is an entirely different situation. America and Europe are leading this international effort. It is now on the agenda of the United Nations Security Council, and many countries are involved in trying to stop this, and I hope that they will succeed. We will certainly try to convince other countries how urgent it is and why it is so important that, at this time before they cross the technological threshold, that the measures will be taken to stop them. But thank God now it’s widely recognized by the international community, and therefore, Israel doesn’t have to act on its own.
BLITZER: Do you really believe that the president of Iran would stop its nuclear enrichment program under these political pressures from the U.S., the U.N., the Europeans?
PM OLMERT: I prefer to take the necessary measures to stop it, rather than to find out later that my indifference was so dangerous. We have to remember what happened when the world did not listen to dictators threatening other nations of annihilation. We had one experience in history of the Jewish people that we definitely don’t want to be repeated.
When I hear a president of a nation openly and officially declaring on every possible network in the world that he intends to wipe out another nation, my nation, and at the same time, he’s working so hard to possess nuclear weapons, I have all the legitimacy to be concerned and to motivate other nations to take the necessary measures to stop him.
BLITZER: Here’s what Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the president of Iran, said last October. He said, "Israel must be wiped off the map of the world. And, God willing, with the force of God behind it, we shall soon experience a world without the United States and Zionists." And this is what he said only on April 14th, last month. He said, "I would like to say that, whether you like it or not, the Zionist regime is approaching its end. The Zionist regime is a dying tree, that soon its branches will be broken down." Is this, from your perspective, simply rhetoric on his part, or do you think he really means it?
PM OLMERT: I certainly think that this is a lot more than just rhetoric. As I said before, when such words are spelled out with such clarity by a leader of a nation, it can’t be left unanswered. It is totally inconceivable that, having the experience that the Western civilization has with such leaders, that we will hear these words and we will not respond. It has to be answered.
When such a leader is trying to build up nuclear weapons that can destroy major parts of the entire civilization of ours, then we have to act. And is incumbent upon the responsible forces in the Western world to take the necessary measures.
As I said before, no one can say that he is not aware of what he says and what he claims. And therefore, I trust that the necessary measures will, indeed, be taken.
BLITZER: So what I hear you saying, Mr. Prime Minister, is that if diplomacy fails, Israel might, in the end, have to take unilateral military action.
PM OLMERT: I think you hear too much on this particular one. What you can say is that I hope diplomacy will not fail, and I hope that the responsible forces will take the necessary measures. And knowing President Bush, the depth of his commitment and the extent of his understanding of world affairs and of the need to fight extremists and terrorists, I am confident that he will lead other nations in taking the necessary measures to stop Iran from becoming a nuclear power.
BLITZER: I just want to press you on this point. You’re not ruling out an Israeli preemptive strike, when all is said and done?
PM OLMERT: I don’t think that we have come close to even considering it.
BLITZER: That sounds like a pretty hard and fast statement, but I suspect there are planning operations in the Israeli military, as there are at the Pentagon, just in case.
PM OLMERT: Again, I understand your need of coming out with a big statement out of this program, and I’d love to give you one. But it will not be on this issue.
There is a Western world. There is America. There is Great Britain and Germany and France and Russia and China and other nations. I doubt that there is one country amongst those I mentioned which has a desire to see Iran, with its fundamentalist, Islamic, extremist government, possessing nuclear weapons. So I trust that they will take the necessary measures. I think it would be inappropriate and out of place for me to make any further statements about the other options.
Address to the Knesset by PM Olmert on presentation of 31st government – 4 May 2006
Today’s European leaders better understand the complexity of the situation in the Middle East. They understand that there are no simple solutions, certainly given the upswing in fundamentalist religious fanaticism in various countries in the Middle East, and the ascendancy of the pro-Iranian Hamas to the Palestinian Authority. We will deepen dialogue with Europe and strive to include its leaders in the dialogue process with the United States.
The threat emanating from Iran is casting a heavy pall over the entire region and is endangering world peace. The pursuit by this rogue and terror-sponsoring regime of nuclear weapons is currently the most dangerous global development, and the international community must do its utmost to stop it. The statements by the President of Iran should not be taken lightly – he means what he says. The State of Israel, which is targeted for destruction by the evil leaders of Tehran, is not helpless. However, only a decisive and uncompromising international stand against Iran’s goals can eliminate this threat to world peace.