Netanyahu warns: If necessary, Israel will stop Iran on its own
WASHINGTON (JTA)—Israel is prepared to strike on its own if Iran is poised to obtain a nuclear weapon, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the United Nations General Assembly.
“Israel will not allow Iran to get nuclear weapons,” Netanyahu said Tuesday, Oct. 1 in his speech, the last address at this year’s opening of the General Assembly in New York. “If Israel is forced to stand alone, Israel will stand alone, but in standing alone Israel will know we are defending many, many others.”
In a reply, an Iranian official said his country’s nuclear program was peaceful but also warned Netanyahu not to attack.
“The Israeli prime minister had better not think about attacking Iran, let alone planning it,” said the official speaking for Iran from its desk in the General Assembly.
Netanyahu’s pledge to act alone if necessary came a day after his meeting with President Obama in which the prime minister sought assurances that the United States would maintain a credible military threat against Iran, even as it opens up diplomatic engagement with the Islamic Republic.
Netanyahu urged the international community not to believe the professions of moderation offered by Iran’s newly elected president, Hassan Rouhani.
“When it comes to Iran’s nuclear weapons program, here’s my advice: distrust, dismantle and verify,” Netanyahu said.
Netanyahu delivered a mixed message in addressing the principal disagreement between him and the Obama administration over Iranian uranium enrichment.
On the one hand, Netanyahu kept emphasizing that he wanted to see the “weapons” or “military” program ended, which may have hinted at a degree of flexibility on his part. Successive U.S. administrations have accepted the concept of an Iranian civilian nuclear program.
On the other hand, Netanyahu maintained his opposition to any Iranian uranium enrichment.
Western powers reportedly are ready to allow Iran to enrich to 3.5 percent, well short of its current 20 percent level and the 90 percent required for weaponization. (JTA)
Netanyahu in D.C. salutes lawmakers for Iran efforts
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu thanked members of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee for their support in working to halt Iran’s nuclear program.
At a meeting Monday, Sept. 30, Netanyahu offered his gratitude to the senators for approving sanctions against Iran, The Hill reported, citing senators in the meeting.
Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) the top Republican on the Foreign Relations Committee, said Netanyahu gave “very detailed” answers about his views.
“Like all of us, I don’t think he wants the negotiations to go on forever,” Corker told The Hill. “Obviously letting up on the sanctions is not something any us are interested in. And like all of us, he understands that if there is an agreement, it needs to be a full agreement.”
The committee organized the meeting.
Earlier in the same evening, meeting with members of Congress at a farewell event for the outgoing Israeli ambassador to the U.S., Michael Oren, Netanyahu told the lawmakers they must continue to apply pressure to Iran to end its alleged nuclear weapons program.
He noted that many of the lawmakers had worked many years to bring Iran to the negotiating table.
Netanyahu said that during his meeting earlier in the day with President Obama, he thanked the president for the regime of harsh sanctions levied on Iran.
In saluting Oren for his service, Netanyahu called the outgoing envoy a “human bridge between Israel and the United States.”
House majority leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.), minority leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), majority whip Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and minority whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) also spoke at the event. (JTA)