‘Iran will back down” from its nuclear weapons drive if the world sets out clear “red lines” to thwart it, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Thursday in a speech to the United National General Assembly. But, he warned, failure to address the Iranian nuclear program forcefully was tantamount to placing an atomic weapon in the hands of the al-Qaeda terror organization.
“Imagine the world with a nuclear-armed al-Qaeda,” Netanyahu said, noting that it made no difference if such weapons were in the hands of “the world’s most radical terrorist regime or terrorist organization.” It was the “same hatred, same violence.”
As he has done in the past, the prime minister also equated the threat from “Iran’s apocalyptic leaders” with the threat posed by the Nazis during World War II.
“It’s not whether this fanaticism will be defeated — it’s how many lives will be lost before it’s defeated,” he said. “Seventy years ago the world saw similar fanaticism… At stake is the future of the world.”
“The hour is getting late,” he said, “very late.”
As expected, the heart of Netanyahu’s speech was a reiteration of the need to draw “red lines” for Iran’s nuclear program, which, if crossed, would precipitate a Western military campaign. The question of “red lines” has been a bone of contention between Israel and the US.
Pulling out a cartoon image of a bomb, Netanyahu averred that “red lines” might have prevented some of the horrors of World War II, and said such lines could work with Iran.
The first, vital red line must be drawn “on Iran’s efforts to enrich uranium,” Netanyahu said, before launching into a description of the mechanics of building such a bomb.
“For Iran,” he said, “amassing enough enriched uranium is far more difficult than producing the nuclear fuse.” Iran can produce “the detonator” in a year or less, in a tiny workshop that — like the underground enrichment facility in Fordo, which for a time Western intelligence was oblivious to — may be hard to find. “The same is true for the small facility in which they could assemble a warhead,” Netanyahu warned.
“Do we want to risk world security on finding a workshop in a country the size of half of Europe?” he said.
The red line must be set “before Iran gets to the point where it is a few months away or a few weeks away” from amassing enough enriched uranium to make a nuclear weapon, he said, driving his message home by drawing a thick — and very literal — line with a red marker across the cartoon image of the bomb in his hand.