Friday, April 27, 2012

Netanyahu's interview with CNN

Here is the transcript of the Iran related part of the interview:
Aired April 24, 2012 - 19:00   ET


BURNETT: Mr. Prime minister, thank you so much for inviting us and letting us come and see your home. 

BENJAMIN NETANYAU, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER: Well, welcome to Jerusalem. Take a look around. 

BURNETT: We came here to your courtyard. I know we had to move -- there was a table here earlier, when we got here, there were two coffee cups on it, I guess it was yours and Tony Blair's, when you were talking this morning, but how important is this space for you? This is sort of your -- this is your getaway space, right? 

NETANYAHU: No this is my prison courtyard, because the prime minister of Israel, like I suppose the president of the United States, and maybe the Pope one or two other people. 

BURNETT: Does it ever feel like you're sort of under house arrest? I mean this -- 

NETANYAHU: Yes, for good reason, but I suppose so. But it doesn't mean that there aren't an endless number of people who want to get into this prison cell -- 

BURNETT: Oh I'm sure -- 

NETANYAHU: -- and live here. 

BURNETT: I'm sure there are. Iran, there's been 16 years of diplomacy as you've talked about. You've said repeatedly, you said it in March; I know you said it to the Army radio this morning. It is not a problem of days but it's also not a problem of years. Now you said that first in March so I would imagine not years, plural. That means you think this will be resolved by next spring? 

NETANYAHU: Well, I hope it is resolved and I hope it is resolved peacefully. Certainly the international community is putting a lot of pressure on Iran and making clear that its nuclear program must stop. If it stops with the sanctions, the combinations of sanctions, diplomacy, other pressures, I, as the prime minister of Israel, will be the happiest person in the world. 

BURNETT: Do you think that sanctions are working? I mean, I saw a story today that about -- I think it was 56 percent of Iranian -- of Iran's fleet, tankers, sitting off the coast with oil, full of oil, because they can't sell it. It would appear that sanctions are working. 

NETANYAHU: Well, they are certainly taking a bite out of the Iranian economy but so far they haven't rolled back the Iranian program or even stopped it by one iota
. I mean, I hope that changes, but so far, I can tell you the centrifuges are spinning. They were spinning before the talks began recently with Iran. They were spinning during the talks. They're spinning as we speak. So, if the sanctions are going to work, they better work soon. 

BURNETT: How do you know what they're doing? 

Oh, we know. 

BURNETT: You know? 

: We know and others know and we share what we know. This is not the case of the questions that people had about Saddam Hussein. 

BURNETT: They say that it is for peaceful purposes -- 

NETANYAHU: They stay it is for peaceful purposes. 

BURNETT: They say it is for peaceful purposes. NETANYAHU: Well you have a sense of humor. I mean they said it is for medical isotopes, right? That's why they are developing ICBMs to carry medical isotopes to Europe or Israel or the United States. That's why they are building these underground bunkers between -- underneath mountains for medical isotopes. You know that's why they are telling the world that they are going to erase Israel, with the medical isotopes. This is a farce. Nobody can seriously -- nobody can take them seriously. 

BURNETT: No nations with nuclear weapons have ever gone to war with each other. I mean, take India and Pakistan. They haven't used them. Could it be that Israel and Iran could end up in a situation like that where the acquisition of the nuclear weapon ensures it would never be used? 

NETANYAHU: Well, I'm not going to comment on Israel's purported capabilities. I will say that to date, since the advent of the nuclear age after Hiroshima all nuclear powers have been very careful with the use or more accurately, the nonuse of the nuclear weapon when it comes to militant Islamic regime, I wouldn't be too sure
. Because unlike, say the Soviets, they can put their ideology before their survival, so I don't think you can bet on their rationality. Iran has given its terror proxies Hamas in Gaza and Hezbollah in Lebanon, it's given them the most advanced lethal weapons, whatever weapons they have to give them and they fired now 10, 12,000 rockets on Israel's cities. 

They've been helping them to murder diplomats worldwide and to kill American soldiers in Afghanistan. Think of what they do with nuclear weapons
. And I don't think you want to bet the peace in the Middle East and the security of the world on Iran's rationale behavior. I think it is a much safer bet to do what I and President Obama and others have said, prevent Iran from acquiring atomic bombs. 

BURNETT: One thing it's interesting though and you talk about some of the negative parts about the regime there is a Jewish member of parliament in Tehran and one of the most popular soap operas there, there was a zero degree turn or zero turn, main character, an Iranian falls in love with a Jewish woman. He helps smuggle Jews out of Paris to save them from the Holocaust. And it's very popular in Iran. What makes you so sure that they are anti-Semitic in a way that would cause them to use the weapon against Israel? 

NETANYAHU: Well I'd draw a distinction between the people of Iran and the regime that has terrorized (ph) them, taken over their lives.

BURNETT: The regime let the show air though. 

NETANYAHU: Well the regime is the one that, you know, has to kill people in the streets and goes into their homes after they cull (ph) the Internet and they just make people disappear. So this is a regime that is very brutal to its own people. Iran is not free. Jews in Iran have a lot to worry about. But the Jewish state that Iran openly calls a cancer that has to be excised from the Middle East that has to be eradicated, certainly must take seriously Iran's claims to annihilate it. 

BURNETT: The way the talks seem to be going, U.N. negotiators, U.S. negotiators, Iranian negotiators, (INAUDIBLE) saying that the sanctions are working and that they may, in fact, roll back some sanctions. That's what the Iranians want and there has not been a direct rebuttal to that from the other side, the really tough sanctions that are supposed to take effect this summer -- 

NETANYAHU: Well I think it would be a big mistake -- 

BURNETT: What do you do -- OK.

NETANYAHU: I think it would be a big mistake to rescind the sanctions or lighten the sanctions. I think there has to be a cascade of sanctions and so far, that's the acid test
, the sanctions haven't worked. How do we know that? Because nothing has been stopped. What has stopped in the Iranian program? 

BURNETT: What if they halted full enrichment to 20 percent started importing that, would that be enough? 

NETANYAHU: I think what they need to do are three things. One, they have to stop all enrichment, second to take the -- 

BURNETT: All enrichment, even the three percent for medical? 

NETANYAHU: Yes. Yes, because they say they need it for what medical isotopes? So you can -- the second point is after you stop all enrichment is remove the enriched material and you will get these rods from another country that can allow you to use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes. And third, dismantle the underground bunker (INAUDIBLE). If they have no military goals, they should respond to this readily. What we want are factual results. We want to see the Iranian program rolled back.
That's, unfortunately, not achieved by talks in which Iran has one goal, to stall, delay, run out the clock. That's basically what they are doing. 

BURNETT: Do you worry that you are going to put yourself in a position though that you may have to strike, a strike which even former head of the Mossad has said would only delay, not end the Iranian nuclear program? That by staying is not days, it's not -- you are going to end up with a date where if you don't do it, you look like you couldn't or you wouldn't so you have to? 

: I'm not worried what we look like. I am worried about stopping this. And I think there are really three principles that should guide us. They have been echoed by the United States and I think any sensible person understands that. The first is that Iran's nuclear weapons program must be stopped. The second is that containment is not an option. And the third is that Israel, the state of the Jewish people, must have the capacity to defend itself by itself against any threat.