'Israel Will Stand Alone': Netanyahu's UN Speech Highlights Danger of U.S. Getting Duped by Iran
North Korea, Netanyahu stressed, is the perfect example of bungled nuclear diplomatic efforts that have only gotten worse. "A nuclear-armed Iran in the Middle East wouldn't be another North Korea. It would be another 50 North Koreas," he added.
For those who think the "wild rhetoric" from Iran that has continued since the Islamic Revolution "is just bluster for domestic consumption," the prime minister stressed, "Have these people learned nothing from history?"
"The last century has taught us that when a radical regime with global ambitions gets awesome power, sooner or later its appetite for aggression knows no bounds. That's the central lesson of the 20th century, and we cannot forget it," he said. "The world may have forgotten this lesson. The Jewish people have not. Iran's fanaticism is not bluster. It's real. This fanatic regime must never be allowed to arm itself with nuclear weapons. I know that the world is weary of war. We in Israel, we know all too well the cost of war. But history has taught us that to prevent war tomorrow, we must be firm today."
The four steps for Iran to fall into line, Netanyahu said, are: "First, cease all uranium enrichment. This is called for by several Security Council resolutions. Second, remove from Iran's territory the stockpiles of enriched uranium. Third, dismantle the infrastructure for a nuclear breakout capability, including the underground facility at Qom and the advanced centrifuges in Natanz. And, fourth, stop all work at the heavy-water reactor in Arak aimed at the production of plutonium."
"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."
At the White House today, press secretary Jay Carney was staging a defense against the regime lashing out at Obama's meeting with Netanyahu.
"President Obama needs consistency to promote mutual confidence. Flip flop destroys trust and undermines US credibility," Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif tweeted yesterday. "Pres. Obama's presumption that Iran is negotiating because of his illegal threats and sanctions is disrespectful of a nation, macho and wrong."
"The president has been consistent. He took office in January of 2009, making clear his willingness to have bilateral discussions with Tehran, if Tehran was willing to address seriously the international community's concerns about its nuclear program," Carney said. "Because of the position he took, it became clear at the time that the United States was not the issue here. It was the behavior of Iran. And that clarity allowed for the building of the most comprehensive set of sanctions that the world has ever seen and the implementation of those sanctions, which, in turn, has led in part to where we find ourselves today, which is with a new government in Iran that has indicated willingness to negotiate a solution to this problem, diplomatically."
When asked about Netanyahu's speech, Carney admitted, "I didn't catch all of it."
Carney added that Israel's "skepticism is understandable," but wouldn't agree to Netanyahu's characterization of Iran's ruse.
"We believe that the Iranian leadership has very publicly, and everyone here has reported on it, changed their approach to resolving this issue with the international community," he said. "…You guys keep asking me to respond to a speech that I haven't -- I wasn't able to hear. But what -- but I understand the basic sentiment. And what we have said is that there's a window of opportunity to resolve this diplomatically."
At the State Department, spokeswoman Jen Psaki brushed off Netanyahu's pledge to act alone if need be, a vow that took on extra meaning as Washington heads down the path laid out by Iran.
"They have also said that before. So that is not a new statement on their part," Psaki said. She clarified that when the U.S. government says its in "lockstep" with Israel it's just referring to "we agree that we cannot allow Iran to acquire a nuclear weapon."
"But certainly, we have an obligation and an opportunity to see if there is a path forward and that's what we're pursuing now," she continued. "…I think I can speak to what our view is, which is that President Rouhani, there's a new opportunity given his election. We will see if they back up their words with actions."
Iran's deputy ambassador to the UN Khodadad Seifi called Netanyahu's speech "inflammatory," according to Iran's Press TV.
"Like last year, he continued saber-rattling toward Iran by abusing this august assembly," Seifi said. "The Israeli prime minister had better not even think about attacking Iran, let alone planning for that."
Yesterday as Congress was wrestling with its government shutdown deadline, congressional leaders and members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee met with Netanyahu on his visit to Washington.
Chairman Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) said afterward that, during the meeting, "senators spoke with a unity of purpose, hopeful for a diplomatic outcome with Iran that leads to a verifiable termination of its pursuit of nuclear weapons program, but resolute that U.S. national security objectives can never be compromised."
“Our resolve to prevent Iran from achieving a nuclear weapons capability remains unchanged and we will not hesitate from proceeding with further sanctions and other options to protect U.S. interests and ensure regional security. While we welcome Iran’s diplomatic engagement, it cannot be used to buy time, avoid sanctions, and continue the march toward nuclear weapons capability," Menendez said.
"Compliance with the U.N. Security Council resolutions will be the ultimate test of Iran’s intentions. We proceed with an open hand, and an open mind, but remain clear-eyed that Iran must align its actions with its rhetoric.”