Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu struck a defiant tone in his speech to the United Nations Thursday and said that the only way to solve the Iranian nuclear program peacefully is for a clear red line to be established.
“In Jewish history, the Jewish people have overcome all the tyrants that sought our destruction,” Netanyahu opened his address, implicitly taking a shot at Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s contention earlier in the week that Israel had no roots in the region and would soon be eliminated.
“The Jewish state will live forever,” he said.
“The Jewish people have come home,” he added. “We will never be uprooted again.”
The bulk of Netanyahu’s thirty-minute speech was focused on the threat a nuclear Iran would pose to the world and the need for the West to lay out a clear red line that Iran would not be permitted to pass.
“We must face the truth. Sanctions have not stopped Iran’s nuclear program either,” he said, noting that despite President Barack Obama helping establish the toughest sanction regime on Iran, the Iranian nuclear program was continuing unabated.
“At this late hour, there is only one way to peacefully prevent Iran from getting atomic bombs, and that’s by placing a clear red line on Iran’s nuclear weapons program,” he said.
“Red lines don’t lead to war — red lines prevent war,” Netanyahu contended, pointing to NATO’s charter declaring that an attack on one country is an attack on all, as well as John F. Kennedy’s firm stance during the Cuban Missile Crisis.
“In fact, it’s the failure to place red lines that has often invited aggression,” Netanyahu argued, suggesting that if red lines were established in the 1930s on Germany, World War II could have been prevented, or had President George H.W. Bush set red lines in 1990 for Saddam Hussein, the first Gulf War could have bee prevented.
Playing professor, Netanyahu took out a picture of a bomb and explained what stage the Iranian nuclear program is at. Then he took out a red marker to delineate where the red line needed to be drawn.
“If these are the facts — and they are — where should a red line be drawn?” Netanyahu asked rhetorically.
“A red line should be drawn … before Iran completes the second stage of nuclear enrichment necessary to make a bomb — before Iran gets to a point where it is a few months away, or a few weeks, away from amassing enough enriched uranium to make a nuclear weapon.”
“I believe, faced with a clear red line, Iran will back down,” he added, saying that making such a demarcation is the only way to solve the Iranian nuclear crisis peacefully.
Earlier in the speech, Netanyahu laid out the history of Iranian aggression: Brutally putting down democracy protests in 2009; killing American troops in Afghanistan, Iraq, Lebanon and Saudi Arabia; destabilizing Lebanon and arming the Islamic Republic’s proxy, Hezbollah, with tens of thousands of missiles to attack Israel; creating an international terrorism network; allegedly planning to kill the Saudi ambassador to the U.S. at a Washington, D.C. restaurant; the regime’s Holocaust denial; and its constant calls for Israel’s destruction.
“So I ask you, given this record of Iranian aggression without nuclear weapons, imagine Iranian aggression with nuclear weapons,” he said.
“Who among you would feel safe in the Middle East? Who’d be safe in Europe? Who’d be safe in America? Who’d be safe anywhere?”
Comparing the Iranian nuclear threat to the threat posed during World War II by Nazi Germany, Netanyahu said the good leaders of the West waited too long to fight the threat.
“Some seventy years ago, the world saw another fanatic ideology bent on world conquest,” he said.
“That went down in flames, but not before it took millions of people with it. Those who opposed that fanaticism waited too long to act. In the end they triumphed, but at a horrific cost.”
Netanyahu said he is compelled to speak about the Iranian threat now with urgency “because the hour is getting late. Very late.”
Reports have circulated that Israel may be preparing for a strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities, possibly even before the U.S. presidential election on Nov. 6. Israel views Iran’s nuclear program as an existential threat to its existence: Iranian leaders have openly talked about Israel’s elimination, with Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei even calling Israel a “cancerous tumor that must be cut and should be cut.”