The first thing the newly elected president said was that Iran must be guaranteed its rights. And the right that Iran stresses that it must have a guarantee on is to develop nuclear weapons. PM Netanyahu to US delegation (7 Aug 2013):
"I know that some place their hopes on Iran’s new president. He knows how to exploit this and yesterday he called for more talks. Of course he wants more talks. He wants to talk and talk and talk. And while everybody is busy talking to him, he’ll be busy enriching uranium. The centrifuges will keep on spinning.
This isn’t a secret. The new Iranian president boasts that that is his strategy. He says, ‘I talk and I smile and I enrich uranium’. This is unfortunately going on as we speak.
Iran’s work and quest towards the achievement of atomic weapons not only continues, it continues unabated – it’s actually accelerated. And they’re also pursuing, as was recently reported, an alternative route to the enrichment of uranium, which is the plutogenic, the plutonium route, simultaneously. So the situation unhappily is not getting any better; it’s actually getting worse. Iran is determined to get the bomb and we must be even more determined to prevent them from getting it."
PM Netanyahu to Cabinet (4 Aug 2013)
On Friday, the Iranian President said that Israel ”has been a wound on the body of the Islamic world’. The President of Iran has been replaced, but the goal of the regime has not been replaced, it remains as it was. Iran’s intention is to develop a nuclear capability and nuclear weapons in order to destroy the State of Israel, and this constitutes a danger not only to us and the Middle East, but the entire world, and we are all committed to prevent this.
PM Netanyahu (1 Aug 2013):
"Following the Iranian elections the House of Representatives has sent a clear message to the Iranian regime that international pressure will increase until Iran meets its obligations and ceases its pursuit of a nuclear weapons capability. We will judge Iran by its actions alone."
PM Netanyahu on "Face the Nation", CBS News (14 Jul 2013):
Bob Schieffer: There are reports in Israel and our sources confirm, Prime Minister, that you want the United States to harden its position on Iran immediately and to convey to the new government there that if Iran does not halt the nuclear program, its regime will not survive.
PM Netanyahu: I think the important thing is what the U.S. said. They said, "The words won’t influence us. What really counts is what the Iranians do." And what they have to do is stop their nuclear program. They have to stop all enrichment of nuclear material, to take out the enriched uranium, and shutdown the illegal and nuclear facility in Qom. These are the right demands. And those should be backed up with ratcheted sanctions. You should ratchet up the sanction and make it clear to Iran that they won’t get away with it. And if sanctions don’t work and they have to know that you’ll be prepared to take military action, that’s the only thing that will get their attention.
Bob Schieffer: There are reports that you feel the United States has been too patient, a little too tolerant, in dealing with the Iranians. Are you asking United States to take a harder line?
PM Netanyahu: We’ve spoken many times, President Obama and I, about the need to prevent Iran from getting nuclear weapons. I know that is the U.S. policy. What is important is to convey to them, especially after the election, that that policy will not change. And that it’ll it be backed up by increasingly forceful sanctions and military action.
Now mind you, there’s a new president in Iran. He’s criticizing his predecessor for being a wolf in wolf’s clothing. His strategy is be a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Smile and build a bomb. He brags about the fact that he talked to the Europeans while completing a nuclear conversion plan in Isfahan. So I think they can’t be allowed to get away with it. They’re getting closer and closer to the bomb. And they have to be told in no uncertain terms that that will not be allowed to happen.
I think it’s important to understand that we cannot allow it to happen. You know, our clocks are ticking at a different pace. We’re closer than the United States. We’re more vulnerable. And therefore, we’ll have to address this question of how to stop Iran, perhaps before the United States does. But as the Prime Minister of Israel, I’m determined to do whatever is necessary to defend my country, the one and only Jewish state, from a regime that threatens us with renewed annihilation.
Bob Schieffer: Well, the United States has said that we won’t tolerate a nuclear Iran. What else can we say?
PM Netanyahu: I think it’s very important to make clear to them that you won’t allow them to have this weapon and to demonstrate that by action. That is, you can also make clear that the military option which is on the table is truly on the table. The Iranians take note of that. Right now, my sense is in the international community as a whole, that because so many things are happening in the Middle East, things are happening, as you say, in Syria, in Egypt, with the Palestinians. There are many important issues that we have to deal with.
I have a sense that there’s no sense of urgency. And yet Iran is the most important, the most urgent matter of all. You should just talk to many of the leaders in this region and they’ll tell you that. Because all the problems that we have, however important, will be dwarfed by this messianic, apocalyptic, extreme regime that would have atomic bombs. It would make a terrible, catastrophic change for the world and for the United States.
Of course, for my country, as well. So I think we have to have our eyes fixed on Iran. They have to know that we’re serious. They have to know that there won’t be an alternative route that they could reach the bomb. If they think that and they think we’ll let them do it, they think that Israel will let them do it, they’re sorely mistaken.
Bob Schieffer: Well, how close are they right now? Are they within a month? Are they within six months of having the capability? How close do you think they are?
PM Netanyahu: They’re closer. The most difficult thing in making a bomb is making the fissile nuclear material that is at the heart of the bomb. That’s really 90 percent of the effort, if I have to just put a thumbs rule on it. And they’re getting closer. They have now about 190 kilos out of the 250 kilos of 20 percent enriched uranium. They had six, seven months, eight months ago about 110 kilos.
So they’re edging up to the red line. They haven’t crossed it yet. They’re also building faster centrifuges that would enable them to jump the line, so to speak, at a much faster rate. That is, within a few weeks. Once they get to that critical mass of 250… They’re getting closer. They should understand that they’re not going to be allowed to cross it.
Bob Schieffer: When will you make a decision on whether to attack Iran? Because you have said, "This will not stand."
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu: Well, I can tell you I won’t wait until it’s too late.
PM Netanyahu at Cabinet meeting (14 Jul 2013):
"A month has passed since the Iranian elections and Iran is continuing to press quickly forward on developing a military nuclear ability. It is expanding and advancing its enrichment facilities and, at the same time, its developing its ballistic missiles capability. Again, these are threats not only against us but against the entire West and the East as well.
We are determined to insist on our demands, which must be the demands of the international community. One, to stop all enrichment. Two, to remove all enriched material. Three, to close the illegal nuclear facility in Qom. We believe that now, more than ever, in light of Iran’s progress, it is important to intensify the economic sanctions and place a credible military option before Iran.
PM Netanyahu addresses Israeli Presidential Conference (20 Jun 2013):
"The greatest threat that we face is that the most dangerous weapons in the world fall into the hands of the most dangerous regimes in the world – especially one regime. We cannot allow Iran to achieve nuclear weapons.
The people of Iran want a better tomorrow. The election results show that very clearly. But Iran’s dictator denies them their rights and he prevents them from materializing that better future. The first thing the newly elected president said was that Iran must be guaranteed its rights. He didn’t say: the Iranian people must be guaranteed their rights. He said: Iran must be guaranteed its rights. And the right that Iran stresses that it must have a guarantee on is to develop nuclear weapons.
This is what this regime is about. So we may be seeing a change in style, but not a change in substance. In fact, the president elect is the author of a doctrine that I call “Talk and Enrich” (enrich nuclear material): You smile, you talk and you move forward towards the bomb. He takes great pride in the fact that when he was Iran’s nuclear negotiator, that’s exactly what he did for many years. He criticizes the past president for not engaging in this tactic to achieve the unchanging and fixed strategy of arming Iran with nuclear weapons.
We cannot allow the Iranian regime to play that game. Now there’s a critical test, and the test is not what they say, but what they do. And what they have to do is to abide by the international demands, stop all enrichment at all levels, remove the nuclear material that’s already been enriched and shut down the illicit nuclear facilities. I say to the international community: keep up the pressure, keep up the pressure and keep to those demands.
This is fundamental for international security, and it’s fundamental for our security."
PM Netanyahu at meeting with EU High Representative Ashton (20 June 2013):
"The elections in Iran will be tested by whether Iran changes its policies and stops all enrichment, takes out the nuclear material and shuts down the illicit nuclear facility in Qom. These are Security Council resolutions. Their feet should be held to the fire. It’s not a question of style, but substance. It’s not a question of political spin, but the spinning of centrifuges. That has to stop, and I think that it is important that Europe joins the United States and Israel and all responsible elements of the international community, and demand a cessation of the Iranian nuclear program.
The second point relates to Iran’s proxy and adjunct, Hezbollah. I hope that those in Europe who refuse to designate Hezbollah as a terrorist organization will change their mind, and I hope there will be a European consensus on this. I mean, it’s hard to see how you cannot have a consensus on Hezbollah as a terrorist organization. If Hezbollah isn’t a terrorist organization, I don’t know what is a terrorist organization. I mean, they’re butchering people left and right across the world and now in the cities of Syria. They’re murdering civilians without letup, including on European soil, as was discovered in Bulgaria, as they try to do in Cyprus. So I would say the designation of Iran’s proxy Hezbollah as a terrorist organization is our second hope that Europe would do, and it would do the right thing."
PM Netanyahu at meeting with Canadian FM John Baird (18 Jun 2013):
"We cannot delude ourselves. Wishful thinking is not a substitute for policy. The new Iranian President has been very clear. He is the author of a doctrine. You could call it ‘talk and enrich’, that is ‘Talk and continue to enrich Uranium for nuclear weapons.’ He wrote this in a book. He said that that by calming the international community Iran is able to steadily move forward in its nuclear weapons program.
We cannot allow Iran to play this game. We cannot let Iran ride out the clock through endless talks. Iran must comply with UN Security Council resolutions. We cannot accept anything less than:
1. A total cessation of all enrichment of nuclear materials at all levels.
2. The removal from Iran of all enriched nuclear material.
3. The closure of Iran’s illicit nuclear facilities.
And until Iran meets these demands, the pressure must be stepped up. The Iranian nuclear weapons program must be stopped, period."
PM Netanyahu at Cabinet meeting (16 Jun 2013):
"Regarding the results of the elections in Iran, let us not delude ourselves. The international community must not become caught up in wishes and be tempted to relax the pressure on Iran to stop its nuclear program. It must be remembered that the Iranian ruler, at the outset, disqualified candidates who did not fit his extremist outlook and from among those whose candidacies he allowed was elected the candidate who was seen as less identified with the regime, who still defines the State of Israel as "the great Zionist Satan."
In any case, the ruler of Iran is the Supreme Leader, not the president, and it is he who determines nuclear policy. The more the pressure on Iran increases, the greater is the chance of stopping the Iranian nuclear program, which remains the greatest threat to world peace. Fifteen years ago, the election of another president, also considered a moderate by the West, led to no change in these aggressive policies. Over the last twenty years, the only thing that has led to a temporary freeze in the Iranian nuclear program was Iran’s concern over aggressive policy against it in 2003. Iran will be judged by its actions. If it continues to insist on developing its nuclear program, the answer needs to be very clear – stopping the nuclear program by any means."