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NETANYAHU DISCUSSES IRAN ON MEET THE PRESS: “THE CLOCK IS TICKING”

In Uncategorized on June 22, 2009 at 2:22 pm

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was on NBC’s “Meet The Press” yesterday. He discussed the Iranian people’s thirst for freedom, and the Iranian regime’s thirst for brutality and nuclear weapons.

Key excerpts:

MR. GREGORY: Let me ask you about the nature of the Iranian threat. Mohamed ElBaradei who, as you know, runs the International Atomic Energy Agency, said in an interview with the BBC on Wednesday the following: “The ultimate aim of Iran,” he said, “as I understand it, is they want to be recognized as a major power in the Middle East. Increasing their nuclear capability is, to them, the road to get that recognition, to get that power and prestige. It is also an insurance policy against what they have heard in the past about regime change.” My question, Prime Minister, what does all that’s happening on the streets of Iran do, in your estimation, to the nature of the threat from Iran? Is this a game-changer in some way?

PRIME MIN. NETANYAHU: First of all, I don’t subscribe to the view that Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons is a status symbol. It’s not. These are people who are sending thousands and thousands of missiles to their terrorist proxies, Hizbullah and Hamas, with the specific instruction to bomb civilians in Israel. They are supporting terrorists in the world. This is not a status symbol. To have such a regime acquire nuclear weapons is to risk the fact that they might give it to terrorists or give terrorists a nuclear umbrella – that is a departure in the security of the Middle East and the world, certainly the security of my country. So I wouldn’t treat the subject so lightly.

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MR. GREGORY: Prime Minister, there has always been debate about whether, when it comes to the threat of a nuclear Iran, whether there is Washington clock and a Jerusalem clock. And let me show you a book by David Sanger of the New York Times that he wrote called, “The Inheritance, the World Obama Confronts and the Challenge to American Power.” And in the course of his reporting for that book, he wrote this about Israel’s plans: “Early in 2008 the Israeli government signaled that it might be preparing to take matters into its own hands” — this is about Iran — “In a series of meetings, Israeli officials asked Washington for a new generation of powerful bunker-busters far more capable of blowing up a deep underground plant than anything in Israel’s arsenal of conventional weapons. They asked for refueling equipment that would allow their aircraft to reach Iran and return to Israel, and they asked for the right to fly over Iraq.” My question — if there is not tangible progress toward de-fanging Iran as a potential nuclear power by the end of the year, do you, as a leader of Israel, go back to that planning that Israel had underway in 2008 against Iran?

PRIME MIN. NETANYAHU: I can’t confirm those assertions….This regime that supports terrorists and calls for the annihilation of Israel and for the domination of the Middle East and beyond — I think this would be something that would endanger the peace of the world, not just my own country’s security and the stability of the Middle East.

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MR. GREGORY: You have said, you said it to Jeffrey Goldberg of The Atlantic magazine, talking about Iran — that it was a messianic and apocalyptic cult controlling atomic bombs. The Obama administration argues that for the past eight years, under President Bush, there has been a hard line calling it part of the “axis of evil,” and where has that hard line gotten America? Only emboldening Iran over that period of time. Is your hard line – is the U.S. hard line over the past eight years the wrong strategy to get Iran to change its behavior?

PRIME MIN. NETANYAHU: I think that the president spoke to me quite explicitly about the great threat that Iran’s development of nuclear weapons capability poses to the United States. I saw, in fact, the continuity, in that sense, of an assessment of the threat….The clock is ticking.

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