If there was any question about America’s current leadership role in the world, it was answered at the United Nations today when Israel laid bare the very real possibility of standing alone against — and protecting the world from — Iran’s nuclear weapons development.
“I want there to be no confusion on this point. Israel will not allow Iran to get nuclear weapons,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said. “If Israel is forced to stand alone, Israel will stand alone — that in standing alone, Israel will know that we will be defending many, many others.”
His speech to close the General Assembly was aimed not as much at calling out the Iranian regime on its sins and deception, but calling out a White House eager to whitewash its new leader in order to avoid confrontation over its nuclear program.
It came a day after Netanayhu and President Obama sat down at the White House behind closed doors, and five days after Obama called Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and declared a bold new era of rapprochement.
Netanyahu detailed the historical amity between the Persians and the Jewish people that was dealt a vicious blow by the 1979 Islamic Revolution.
“As it was busy crushing the Iranian people’s hope for democracy, it also led wild chants of ‘Death to the Jews.’ Now, since that time, presidents of Iran have come and gone. Some presidents were considered moderates, others hardliners, but they’ve all served that same unforgiving creed, that same unforgiving regime, that creed that is espoused and enforced by the real power in Iran, the dictator known as the supreme leader, first Ayatollah Khomeini and now Ayatollah Khamenei,” he said.
“President Rouhani, like the presidents who came before him, is a loyal servant of the regime. He was one of only six candidates the regime permitted to run for office. Nearly 700 other candidates were rejected.”
What made Rouhani “acceptable” to the ayatollah, Netanyahu noted, was his tenure heading Iran’s Supreme National Security Council from 1989 through 2003 — a time period in which attacks included the 1994 bombing of a Jewish center in Buenos Aires and the deaths of 19 American soldiers in the bombing at the Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia.
“Are we to believe that Rouhani, the national security advisor of Iran at the time, knew nothing about these attacks? Of course he did,” the prime minister said. “Just as 30 years ago, Iran’s security chiefs knew about the bombings in Beirut that killed 241 American Marines and 58 French paratroopers. Rouhani was also Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator between 2003 and 2005. He masterminded the strategy which enabled Iran to advance its nuclear weapons program behind a smokescreen of diplomatic engagement and very soothing rhetoric.”
The main difference between Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who regularly made outrageous remarks on his UN trips, and Rouhani, who worked media and politicians into an affectionate frenzy with his charm offensive last week, is “Ahmadinejad was a wolf in wolf’s clothing; Rouhani is a wolf in sheep’s clothing.”
Netanyahu laid out the “brazen contrast” between Rouhani’s words and Iran’s action by noting its denouncement of terrorism while participating in and propping up terrorism, and its calls for “constructive engagement” while, just three weeks ago, an Iranian agent was arrested trying to collect information for possible attacks against the U.S. embassy in Tel Aviv.
“The facts are that Iran’s savage record flatly contradicts Rouhani’s soothing rhetoric,” he added. “…Why would a country that claims to only want peaceful nuclear energy, why would such a country build hidden underground enrichment facilities? Why would a country with vast natural energy reserves invest billions in developing nuclear energy? Why would a country intent on merely civilian nuclear programs continue to defy multiple Security Council resolutions and incur the tremendous cost of crippling sanctions on its economy? And why would a country with a peaceful nuclear program develop intercontinental ballistic missiles whose sole purpose is to deliver nuclear warheads?”
“You don’t build ICBMs to carry TNT thousands of miles away. You build them for one purpose: to carry nuclear warheads. And Iran is building now ICBMs that the United States says could reach this city in three or four years… Iran is not building a peaceful nuclear program. Iran is developing nuclear weapons.”
Since Rouhani’s recent election, as the world excitedly jabbered about a more moderate regime, Netanyahu noted that the “vast and feverish effort” to enrich uranium and add centrifuges “has continued unabated.”
“Last year when I spoke here at the U.N., I drew a red line. Now, Iran has been very careful not to cross that line, but Iran is positioning itself to race across that line in the future at a time of its choosing. Iran wants to be in a position to rush forward to build nuclear bombs before the international community can detect it and much less prevent it,” he said.
Sanctions have had a desirable effect on the regime, Netanyahu continued, but need to stay in place or be stepped up along with keeping a credible threat of military force on the table.
“The regime is under intense pressure from the Iranian people to get the sanctions relieved or removed. That’s why Rouhani got elected in the first place. That’s why he launched his charm offensive. He definitely wants to get the sanctions lifted; I guarantee you that. But he doesn’t want to give up Iran’s nuclear weapons program in return,” he said. “Now, here’s a strategy to achieve this. First, smile a lot. Smiling never hurts. Second, pay lip service to peace, democracy and tolerance. Third, offer meaningless concessions in exchange for lifting sanctions. And, fourth — and the most important — ensure that Iran retains sufficient nuclear material and sufficient nuclear infrastructure to race to the bomb at a time that it chooses to do so.”
As the negotiator who bragged about pressing forward with a nuclear program while talking with Europe about disarmament, Rouhani “fooled the world once. Now he thinks he can fool it again. You see, Rouhani thinks he can have his yellowcake and eat it, too.”