Netanyahu Answers Obama at the UN
“If Israel is forced to stand alone, Israel will stand alone”
It was fitting that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was the last in a long line of world leaders to address this year’s annual meeting of the United Nations General Assembly. He had the last word.
The Prime Minister’s speech was a stern warning to everyone who heard his message: Do not be fooled by the new face of the Iranian regime.
But it was clear to everyone who heard Netanyahu’s speech that he was speaking to one man – Barack Obama.
Netanyahu’s speech followed a flurry of excitement last week after Obama spoke by phone to Iranian President Hassan Rouhani in pursuit of a thaw in U.S-Iranian relations. Obama’s mission – work diplomatically to challenge Iran’s nuclear program.
Netanyahu is not buying it. He warned that Iran’s overture to the West is a ruse. What is more, he said Israel would do what is necessary to prevent Iran from securing nuclear weapons.
“Ladies and gentlemen, Israel will never acquiesce to nuclear arms in the hands of a rogue regime that repeatedly promises to wipe us off the map,” Netanyahu said. “Against such a threat, Israel will have no choice but to defend itself.”
Then he lowered the hammer on Obama and every Western leader seduced by Rouhani’s charm offensive.
“I want there to be no confusion on this point. Israel will not allow Iran to get nuclear weapons. If Israel is forced to stand alone, Israel will stand alone. Yet, in standing alone, Israel will know that we will be defending many, many others.”
In a clever rhetorical flourish, Netanyahu even harkened back to Ronald Reagan.
“We all want to give diplomacy with Iran a chance to succeed, but when it comes to Iran, the greater the pressure, the greater the chance. Three decades ago, President Ronald Reagan famously advised, “trust but verify.” When it comes to Iran’s nuclear weapons program, here’s my advice: Distrust, dismantle, and verify.”
Netanyahu said he believes Iran aims to get away with its diplomatic ruse because it worked successfully for North Korea.
But, Netanyahu said, North Korea pales in comparison to the danger of a nuclear-armed Iran. “A nuclear-armed Iran in the Middle East wouldn’t be another North Korea. It would be another 50 North Koreas.”
Then Netanyahu laid out exactly what the international community must do to deal effectively with Iran:
- First, keep up the sanctions. If Iran advances its nuclear weapons program during negotiations, strengthen the sanctions.
- Second, don’t agree to a partial deal. A partial deal would lift international sanctions that have taken years to put in place in exchange for cosmetic concessions that will take only weeks for Iran to reverse.
- Third, lift the sanctions only when Iran fully dismantles its nuclear weapons program. My friends, the international community has Iran on the ropes. If you want to knock out Iran’s nuclear weapons program peacefully, don’t let up the pressure. Keep it up.
This was Netanyahu’s most dire warning to Obama and all others who will tolerate delay while danger builds. The West cannot play diplomatic games with Iran indefinitely. Time is running out.