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Iran in their own words

Netanyahu: Not stopping Iran comes at too high a price

_JStandardCover Story
Published: 09 March 2012
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Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu receives a standing ovation at the AIPAC policy conference. Amos Ben Gershom/GPO/FLASH90

The following is an edited version of the speech delivered on Monday evening by Israel’s prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, to this week’s 2012 AIPAC Policy Conference in Washington, D.C.

Every day, I open the newspapers and read about these red lines and these timelines. I read about what Israel has supposedly decided to do, or what Israel might do....I’m not going to talk to you about what Israel will do or will not do; I never talk about that. But I do want to talk to you about the dangers of a nuclear-armed Iran.

I want to explain why Iran must never be allowed to develop nuclear weapons.

President [Barack] Obama has reiterated his commitment to prevent that from happening. He stated clearly that all options are on the table, and that American policy is not containment....Israel has exactly the same policy.

We are determined to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons; we leave all options on the table; and containment is definitely not an option. The Jewish state will not allow those who seek our destruction to possess the means to achieve that goal. A nuclear armed Iran must be stopped.

Amazingly, some people refuse to acknowledge that Iran’s goal is to develop nuclear weapons. You see, Iran claims to do everything it’s doing, that it’s enriching uranium to develop medical isotopes....A country that builds underground nuclear facilities, develops intercontinental ballistic missiles, manufactures thousands of centrifuges, and that absorbs crippling sanctions, is doing all that in order to advance medical research. So you see, when that Iranian ICBM is flying through the air to a location near you, you’ve got nothing to worry about. It’s only carrying medical isotopes....

If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, then what is it? That’s right, it’s a duck. But this duck is a nuclear duck. And it’s time the world started calling a duck a duck.

Fortunately, President Obama and most world leaders understand that the claim that Iran’s goal is not to develop nuclear weapons is simply ridiculous.

Yet incredibly, some are prepared to accept an idea only slightly less preposterous: that we should accept a world in which the ayatollahs have atomic bombs. Sure, they say, Iran is cruel, but it’s not crazy. It’s detestable, but it’s deterrable.

My friends, responsible leaders should not bet the security of their countries on the belief that the world’s most dangerous regimes won’t use the world’s most dangerous weapons. And I promise you that as [its] prime minister, I will never gamble with the security of the State of Israel.

From the beginning, the ayatollah[-led Iranian] regime has broken every international rule and flouted every norm. It has seized embassies, targeted diplomats. It sends its own children through mine fields; it hangs gays and stones women; it supports [Syrian President Hafez al] Assad’s brutal slaughter of the Syrian people; it is the world’s foremost sponsor of terrorism: it sponsors Hezbollah in Lebanon, Hamas in Gaza, and terrorists throughout the Middle East, Africa, even South America. Iran’s proxies have dispatched hundreds of suicide bombers, planted thousands of roadside bombs, and they fired over 20,000 missiles at civilians.

Through terror from the skies and terror on the ground, Iran is responsible for the murder of hundreds, if not thousands, of Americans. In 1983, Iran’s proxy Hezbollah blew up the Marine barracks in Lebanon, killing 240 U.S. Marines. In the last decade, it’s been responsible for murdering and maiming American soldiers in Afghanistan and in Iraq. Just a few months ago, it tried to assassinate the Saudi ambassador to the United States in a restaurant just a few blocks from here. The assassins didn’t care that several senators and congressmen would have been murdered in the process.

Now this is real chutzpah: Iran accuses the American government of orchestrating 9/11, and that’s as brazen as denying the Holocaust, and [yet] they do. Iran calls for Israel’s destruction, and they work for its destruction — each day, every day, relentlessly.

I say all his to make one point clear: This is how Iran behaves today, without nuclear weapons. Think of how [it] will behave tomorrow, with nuclear weapons. Iran will be even more reckless and a lot more dangerous.

There’s been plenty of talk recently about the costs of stopping Iran. I think it’s time we started talking about the costs of not stopping Iran. A nuclear-armed Iran would dramatically increase terrorism by giving terrorists a nuclear umbrella. Let me try to explain what that means, a nuclear umbrella:

• It means that Iran’s terror proxies like Hezbollah [and] Hamas will be emboldened to attack the United States, Israel, and other countries because they will be backed by a power that has atomic bombs. So the terrorism could grow tenfold.

• A nuclear-armed Iran could choke off the world’s oil supply and could make real its threat to close the Strait of Hormuz. If you’re worried about the price of oil today, imagine how high oil prices could get once a nuclear-armed Iran starts blackmailing the world.

• If Iran gets nuclear weapons, it would set off a mad dash by Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and others to acquire nuclear weapons of their own. The world’s most volatile region would become a nuclear tinderbox waiting to go off.

• And here’s the worst nightmare of all: With nuclear weapons, Iran could threaten all of us with nuclear terrorism. It could put a nuclear device in a ship heading to any port or in a truck parked in any city, anywhere in the world.

I want you to think about what it would mean to have nuclear weapons in the hands of those who lead millions of radicals who chant “Death to America” and “Death to Israel.”

When you think about that, you’ll reach a simple conclusion: for the sake of our prosperity, for the sake of our security, for the sake of our children, Iran must not be allowed to acquire nuclear weapons....

For 15 years, I’ve been warning that a nuclear-armed Iran is a grave danger to my country and to the peace and security of the entire world.

For the last decade, the international community has tried diplomacy. It hasn’t worked.

For six years, the international community has applied sanctions. That hasn’t worked either.

I appreciate President Obama’s recent efforts to impose even tougher sanctions against Iran. These sanctions are hurting Iran’s economy, but unfortunately, Iran’s nuclear program continues to march forward.

Israel has waited patiently for the international community to resolve this issue. We’ve waited for diplomacy to work. We’ve waited for sanctions to work. None of us can afford to wait much longer. As prime minister of Israel, I will never let my people live in the shadow of annihilation....

Some commentators would have you believe that stopping Iran from getting the bomb is more dangerous than letting Iran have the bomb. They say that a military confrontation with Iran would undermine the efforts already underway; that it would be ineffective; and that it would provoke an even more vindictive response by Iran.

I’ve heard these arguments before. In fact, I’ve read them before. In my desk, I have copies of an exchange of letters between the World Jewish Congress and the United States War Department.

Here are the letters:

The year was 1944. The World Jewish Congress implored the American government to bomb Auschwitz. The reply came five days later. I want to read it to you.

“Such an operation could be executed only by diverting considerable air support essential to the success of our forces elsewhere..., and, in any case, it would be of such doubtful efficacy that it would not warrant the use of our resources….”

And, my friends, here’s the most remarkable sentence of all...: “Such an effort might provoke even more vindictive action by the Germans.” Think about that — “even more vindictive action” than the Holocaust....

My friends, 2012 is not 1944. The American government today is different. You heard it in President Obama’s speech yesterday....[But the] Jewish people are also different. Today, we have a state of our own. And the purpose of the Jewish state is to defend Jewish lives and to secure the Jewish future. Never again will we not be masters of the fate of our very survival. Never again. That is why Israel must always have the ability to defend itself, by itself, against any threat....

We deeply appreciate the great alliance between our two countries. But when it comes to Israel’s survival, we must always remain the masters of our fate....

Israel’s fate is to continue to be the forward position of freedom in the Middle East; [to be] the only place in the Middle East where minorities enjoy full civil rights; the only place in the Middle East where Arabs enjoy full civil rights; the only place in the Middle East where Christians are free to practice their faith; the only place in the Middle East where real judges protect the rule of law. And as prime minister of Israel, I will always protect Israel’s democracy — always. I will never allow anything to threaten Israel’s democratic way of life. and most especially, I will never tolerate any discrimination against women....

This week, we will read how one woman changed Jewish history. In synagogues throughout the world, the Jewish people will celebrate the festival of Purim. We will read how some 2,500 years ago, a Persian anti-Semite tried to annihilate the Jewish people. And we will read how that plot was foiled by one courageous woman — Esther.

In every generation, there are those who wish to destroy the Jewish people. In this generation, we are blessed to live in an age when there is a Jewish state capable of defending the Jewish people. And we are doubly blessed to have so many friends like you, Jews and non-Jews alike, who love the State of Israel and support its right to defend itself....

Thank you for your friendship. Thank you for your courage. Thank you for standing up for the one and only Jewish state.

 
 

Iran in their own words

Obama: U.S. will not hesitate to use force

_JStandardCover Story
Published: 09 March 2012
(tags): iran, aipac, barack obama
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The following is an edited version of President Barack Obama’s speech delivered on Sunday to the 2012 AIPAC Policy Conference in Washington, D.C.

Four years ago, I stood before you and said…, “Israel’s security is sacrosanct. It is non-negotiable.” That belief has guided my actions as president….[M]y administration’s commitment to Israel’s security has been unprecedented. Our military and intelligence cooperation has never been closer. Our joint exercises and training have never been more robust. Despite a tough budget environment, our security assistance has increased every single year. We are investing in new capabilities. We’re providing Israel with more advanced technology — the types of products and systems that only go to our closest friends and allies.

And make no mistake: We will do what it takes to preserve Israel’s qualitative military edge — because Israel must always have the ability to defend itself, by itself, against any threat.

This isn’t just about numbers on a balance sheet. As a senator, I spoke to Israeli troops on the Lebanese border. I visited with families who’ve known the terror of rocket fire in Sderot. And that’s why, as president, I have provided critical funding to deploy the Iron Dome system that has intercepted rockets that might have hit homes and hospitals and schools in that town and in others. Now our assistance is expanding Israel’s defensive capabilities, so that more Israelis can live free from the fear of rockets and ballistic missiles…[N]o family, no citizen, should live in fear.

And just as we’ve been there with our security assistance, we’ve been there through our diplomacy. When the Goldstone report unfairly singled out Israel for criticism [following the flotilla incident], we challenged it. When Israel was isolated in the aftermath of the flotilla incident, we supported them. When the Durban conference was commemorated, we boycotted it, and we will always reject the notion that Zionism is racism.

When one-sided resolutions are brought up at the Human Rights Council, we oppose them. When Israeli diplomats feared for their lives in Cairo, we intervened to save them. When there are efforts to boycott or divest from Israel, we will stand against them. And whenever an effort is made to de-legitimize the State of Israel, my administration has opposed them.

So there should not be a shred of doubt by now — when the chips are down, I have Israel’s back….

[T]he U.S.-Israel relationship is simply too important to be distorted by partisan politics. America’s national security is too important. Israel’s security is too important.

Of course, there are those who question not my security and diplomatic commitments, but rather my administration’s ongoing pursuit of peace between Israelis and Palestinians. So let me say this: I make no apologies for pursuing peace. Israel’s own leaders understand the necessity of peace….I believe that peace is profoundly in Israel’s security interest….

Of course, peace is hard to achieve. There’s a reason why it’s remained elusive for six decades….But as hard as it may be, we should not, and cannot, give in to cynicism or despair. The changes taking place in the region make peace more important, not less. And I’ve made it clear that there will be no lasting peace unless Israel’s security concerns are met. That’s why we continue to press Arab leaders to reach out to Israel, and will continue to support the peace treaty with Egypt. That’s why — just as we encourage Israel to be resolute in the pursuit of peace — we have continued to insist that any Palestinian partner must recognize Israel’s right to exist, and reject violence, and adhere to existing agreements.

And that is why my administration has consistently rejected any efforts to short-cut negotiations or impose an agreement on the parties.

…I stood before you and pledged that, “the United States will stand up against efforts to single Israel out at the United Nations.” As you know, that pledge has been kept. Last September, I stood before the United Nations General Assembly and reaffirmed that any lasting peace must acknowledge the fundamental legitimacy of Israel and its security concerns. I said that America’s commitment to Israel’s security is unshakeable, our friendship with Israel is enduring, and that Israel must be recognized.

No American president has made such a clear statement about our support for Israel at the United Nations at such a difficult time. People usually give those speeches before audiences like this one — not before the General Assembly.

And I must say, there was not a lot of applause. But it was the right thing to do. And as a result, today there is no doubt — anywhere in the world — that the United States will insist upon Israel’s security and legitimacy….

[Regarding Iran, let’s] begin with a basic truth that you all understand: No Israeli government can tolerate a nuclear weapon in the hands of a regime that denies the Holocaust, threatens to wipe Israel off the map, and sponsors terrorist groups committed to Israel’s destruction….

A nuclear-armed Iran is completely counter to Israel’s security interests. But it is also counter to the national security interests of the United States.

Indeed, the entire world has an interest in preventing Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon. A nuclear-armed Iran would thoroughly undermine the non-proliferation regime that we’ve done so much to build. There are risks that an Iranian nuclear weapon could fall into the hands of a terrorist organization. It is almost certain that others in the region would feel compelled to get their own nuclear weapon, triggering an arms race in one of the world’s most volatile regions. It would embolden a regime that has brutalized its own people, and it would embolden Iran’s proxies, who have carried out terrorist attacks from the Levant to southwest Asia….

When I took office, the efforts to apply pressure on Iran were in tatters. Iran had gone from zero centrifuges spinning to thousands, without facing broad pushback from the world. In the region, Iran was ascendant — increasingly popular, and extending its reach. In other words, the Iranian leadership was united and on the move, and the international community was divided about how to go forward.

And so from my very first months in office, we put forward a very clear choice to the Iranian regime: a path that would allow them to rejoin the community of nations if they meet their international obligations, or a path that leads to an escalating series of consequences if they don’t. In fact, our policy of engagement — quickly rebuffed by the Iranian regime — allowed us to rally the international community as never before….

Because of our efforts, Iran is under greater pressure than ever before….Iran is isolated, its leadership divided and under pressure…, and its ally — the Assad regime — is crumbling.

Of course, so long as Iran fails to meet its obligations, this problem remains unresolved….[W]e must accomplish our objective. And in that effort, I firmly believe that an opportunity still remains for diplomacy — backed by pressure — to succeed….

[A]s president and commander-in-chief, I have a deeply held preference for peace over war. I have sent men and women into harm’s way. I’ve seen the consequences of those decisions in the eyes of those I meet who’ve come back gravely wounded, and the absence of those who don’t make it home. Long after I leave this office, I will remember those moments as the most searing of my presidency. And for this reason, as part of my solemn obligation to the American people, I will only use force when the time and circumstances demand it….

Iran’s leaders should have no doubt about the resolve of the United States, just as they should not doubt Israel’s sovereign right to make its own decisions about what is required to meet its security needs.

I have said that when it comes to preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon, I will take no options off the table, and I mean what I say….Iran’s leaders should understand that I do not have a policy of containment; I have a policy to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. And as I have made clear time and again during the course of my presidency, I will not hesitate to use force when it is necessary to defend the United States and its interests.

Moving forward, I would ask that we all remember the weightiness of these issues; the stakes involved for Israel, for America, and for the world. Already, there is too much loose talk of war. Over the last few weeks, such talk has only benefited the Iranian government, by driving up the price of oil, which they depend on to fund their nuclear program. For the sake of Israel’s security, America’s security, and the peace and security of the world, now is not the time for bluster. Now is the time to let our increased pressure sink in, and to sustain the broad international coalition we have built. Now is the time to heed the timeless advice from Teddy Roosevelt: Speak softly; carry a big stick.

And as we do, rest assured that the Iranian government will know our resolve, and that our coordination with Israel will continue….

We may not agree on every single issue — no two nations do, and our democracies contain a vibrant diversity of views. But we agree on the big things — the things that matter. And together, we are working to build a better world — one where our people can live free from fear; one where peace is founded upon justice; one where our children can know a future that is more hopeful than the present.

There is no shortage of speeches on the friendship between the United States and Israel. But I’m also mindful of the proverb, “A man is judged by his deeds, not his words.” So if you want to know where my heart lies, look no further than what I have done — to stand up for Israel; to secure both of our countries; and to see that the rough waters of our time lead to a peaceful and prosperous shore.

 
 
 
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