Washington, Sept. 27 – Iran must not be allowed to develop nuclear weapons with which to threaten the world and oppress its citizens, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Thursday in his address to the United Nations General Assembly.
“At stake is not merely the future of my country. At stake is the future of the world. And nothing could imperil our common future more than the arming of Iran with nuclear weapons,” Netanyahu said. “The hour is getting late – very late. The Iranian nuclear calendar doesn’t take out time for anyone or anything.”
Netanyahu insisted that the international community must draw a clear “red line” at 90 percent uranium enrichment, beyond which Iran would not be permitted to advance without reprisal. He emphasized the condition by physically drawing a red line on a graphic illustrating Iran’s enrichment progress, creating an instantly iconic image that went viral on the Internet and dominated news coverage of the prime minister’s speech.
After seven years of negotiations and several rounds of sanctions, Netanyahu said, “We must face the truth: sanctions have not stopped Iran’s nuclear program. At this late hour, there’s 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. A red line should be drawn before Iran gets to a point where it’s a few months away or a few weeks away from amassing enough enriched uranium to make a nuclear weapon. Each day that point is getting closer.”
Netanyahu explicitly addressed foreign policy analysts who have suggested that a nuclear Iran can be contained, quoting historian Bernard Lewis on the point that “for the ayatollahs of Iran, mutually assured destruction is not a deterrent. It’s an inducement.” His stance echoed that of President Obama, who on Tuesday said in his address to the General Assembly that containment of Iran’s nuclear program isn’t a viable option and that the United States will not permit the Islamic republic to develop a nuclear weapon.
“Make no mistake: a nuclear-armed Iran is not a challenge that can be contained,” the president said. “It would threaten the elimination of Israel, the security of Gulf nations, and the stability of the global economy. It risks triggering a nuclear-arms race in the region, and the unraveling of the non-proliferation treaty. That is why the United States will do what we must to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.”
Noting the Iranian regime’s attacks against Iranian protesters and its extensive record of terrorism abroad, Netanyahu asked, “If Iran had a nuclear bomb, who among you would feel safe in the Middle East? Who’d be safe in America? Who’d be safe anywhere?”
Iran trains, arms, and funds its Hezbollah proxies in Lebanon and its Hamas proxies in the Gaza Strip. It provides support for the Assad regime’s massacre of Syrian civilians. Its leaders have as recently as this week called for Israel’s destruction and denied the Holocaust. The regime also makes a point of promising to share its nuclear know-how with like-minded entities.
During his U.N. address Wednesday, Ahmadinejad repeated many of these tropes, despite a personal request from U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to cease his rhetorical incitement against Israel.
Netanyahu addressed such revisionism in comments about how, despite periods of forced exile, “the Jewish people have lived in the land of Israel for thousands of years. We will never be uprooted again."
An hour before Netanyahu took the podium, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas confirmed rumors that he would renew his bid this year for non-member statehood at the United Nations, deepening fears among diplomats that the Palestinian leader will pursue unilateral options that functionally abrogate previous agreements with Israel.