Israeli Prime Minister laid out in some detail this afternoon his nation’s case for taking stronger action against Iran and his nation’s response to what he said are “libelous” accusations about how Israel treats Palestinians.
Taking to the stage just minutes after the head of the Palestinian Authority, Benjamin Netanyahu told United Nations delegates this afternoon that Israelis and Palestinians “won’t solve our conflicts with libelous speeches at the U.N.”
Netanyahu, directly addressing earlier comments by Mahmoud Abbas — who accused Israel of waging a campaign of “ethnic cleansing” against Palestinians — said peace will only come if Israelis and Palestinians “sit together, negotiate together and reach a mutual compromise.”
And there must be, he said, “a demilitarized Palestinian state that recognizes the one and only Jewish state.”
Netanyahu also used his address to repeat something he’s said many times in recent months: that a nuclear-armed Iran would be a threat to peace not only in the Middle East, but around the world.
After ticking off the evidence that he says points to Iran’s support of terrorism around the world, Netanyahu said that “given this record of Iranian aggression without nuclear weapons, just imagine Iranian aggression with nuclear weapons.”
And Netanyahu cast doubt on the theory that “mutual deterrence” would prevent a nuclear-armed Iran from ever using such weapons. He said it is “absurd” to suggest, “that a nuclear-armed Iran would actually stabilize the Middle East.”
“The hour is getting late, very late” to stop Iran from obtaining such weapons, Netanyahu warned.
“We must face the truth,” he added: Economic sanctions have not stopped Iran’s nuclear program. What’s needed, he said, is “a clear red line on Iran’s nuclear weapons program.”
The red line that Iran must not cross, Netanyahu said, is “amassing enough enriched uranium” to produce a nuclear weapon.
Using an illustration of a bomb and lines across it marking three stages of the developments necessary to assemble a bomb, Netanyahu said the red line must be drawn before the point where Iran moves to develop highly enriched uranium. That point will come “by next spring or summer,” he said, according to information published by the International Atomic Energy Agency.
“Faced with a clear red line,” that marks the point where it could face military action, “Iran will back down,” Netanyahu predicted. His text is due to be posted here.
For the record, Iranian leaders have repeatedly said they are pursuing nuclear power for peaceful purposes.