NEW YORK – In an address to the United Nations General Assembly, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu challenged the U.S. and President Obama directly by calling for a “clear red line” to be drawn on Iran’s enrichment of uranium, a “gunpowder” useful only in the development of nuclear weapons.
“I believe that faced with a clear red line, Iran will back down,” he said.
In contrast, while Obama told the U.N. in his speech Monday that the U.S. will not tolerate an Iran armed with nuclear weapons, he did not outline any new steps other than to continue economic and diplomatic sanctions.
“Red lines don’t lead to war, red lines prevent war,” Netanyahu argued. “Nothing could imperil the world more than a nuclear-armed Iran.”
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The Israeli leader asserted the creation of a clear red line was the only deterrence Iran could understand, noting its radical religious leaders have called for Israel’s destruction “on a daily basis.”
He cited a “record of Iranian aggression without nuclear weapons” and asked the delegates to “imagine them with nuclear weapons.”
He tied Iran to the “medieval forces of radical Islam” who were on display in the recent attack on the U.S. Consulate in Libya and are “bent on world conquest.”
Netanyahu warned that it would be a “dangerous assumption” to believe a nuclear-armed Iran could be deterred like the former Soviet Union, explaining “militant jihadists behave very differently from secular Marxists.
“There were no Soviet suicide bombers, yet Iran produces hordes of them.”
The Iranian ayatollahs, he said, do not value survival above ideology.
Netanyahu referred specifically to the belief Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad expounded upon at the end of his U.N. speech yesterday in a coming Islamic messiah, the Mahdi, who will establish a “new world order.”
The Israeli leader explained that mutually assured destruction is not a deterrent, because Iran’s “apocalyptic leaders believe that a medieval holy man will reappear in the wake of a devastating holy war, thereby ensuring that their brand of radical Islam will rule the earth.”
He emphasized that “that’s not just what they believe, that is what is guiding their policy and their actions.”
Netanyahu held up in front of the delegates a graphic of a time bomb to illustrate his contention that Iran is nearing the final stage in its development of a nuclear weapon.
Iran is at the 90-percent stage, he said, and can reach the final stage by next spring.
Basing his information in the U.N.’s own International Atomic Energy Agency, he insisted a “red line” needs to be drawn before the final stage.
Netanyahu also took exception with Ahmadinejad’s repeated assertions the Jewish state has no historical roots in the Middle East.
He opened his speech declaring: “Ladies and gentlemen, 3,000 years ago King David reigned over the Jewish state in our eternal capital, Jerusalem. I say that to all those who proclaim that the Jewish state has no roots in our region and that it will soon disappear.”
Throughout their history, he said, the Jewish people have “overcome all the tyrants who have sought our destruction.”
Netanyahu also alluded to an accusation by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, whose speech preceded Netanyahu’s, that forces loyal to the Israeli government have engage in a form of “ethnic cleansing” in the West Bank.
“We won’t solve our conflict with libelous speeches at the U.N.,” Netanyahu said.