Friday, October 4, 2013

Netanyahu to NBC: This messianic, apocalyptic, radical regime

'You do not want to be in a position where this messianic, apocalyptic, radical regime, that has these wild ambitions, but nice spokesmen, gets away with building weapons of mass death.'

Netanyahu is focusing his message -  It is exactly the one this blog is all about 

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Andrea Mitchell

Israel's Prime Minister Netanyahu has some strong warnings about Iran's diplomatic overtures. I sat down with him yesterday and he called Hassan Rouhani a wolf in sheep's clothing. I asked Netanyahu why he is so sure Rouhani is lying.


Well, he talks about his revere for democracy in Iran. He tweets here in the United States but they don't let the Iranian people twitter. He talks about the scourge of terrorism. Iran conducts as we speak, now terrorist operations in dozens of countries. He speaks of the tragedy in Syria. Iran's forces help Assad perpetrate massacre of tens of thousands of men, women, and children as we speak. So it's one thing to say one thing, it's another thing what they do. I look at what they do, not what they say.

But, could it be a start? He tweeted Rosh HaShana greetings to Jewish people. He told us he condemns the Holocaust. The massacre of the Jews is a crime against all humanity. Isn't that a difference from his predecessor?

I think there is a difference. The difference is in style. I said Ahmadinejad was a wolf in wolf's clothing, and Rouhani  is a wolf in sheep's clothing , but it doesn't mean we should let him pull the wool over our eyes. Now, here is the reason I say that. Rouhani himself brought this, I think it's important. Here is what he himself said in his 2011 book about his time as Iran's chief nuclear negotiator. He said, "While we were talking to the Europeans in Tehran, we were installing equipment in Isfahan." That's the critical conversion facility that takes Iranian yellow cake, ore and converts it into an enriched form. Then he said, "by creating a calm environment, calm international environment, we were able to complete the work in Isfahan”. So Rouhani is telling you he had had a different tactic from Ahmadinejad. He's been arguing Khamenei, the true supreme leader in Iran. He calls the shots, Khamenei  . He tells, he tells his boss, I can get you the completion of the nuclear program by speaking nicely to the west. What Ahmadinejad tried to do with a frown, I'll do with a smile.

But have things changed? He was elected, he says, with a mandate to be moderate. You know they are hurting, the economic sanctions. He wants to get rid of the sanctions. Things have possible changed. Do you think you have a risk of overstating the dangers and hurting Israel by isolating Israel from the rest of the world that wants a diplomatic opening.

No, I want a diplomatic solution but one that actually dismantles Iran's nuclear weapons.

So, why not test him?

Well, we are. I think the important thing is not what he says but whether we get a full dismantling of Iran's nuclear program. See, Rouhani was elected to remove the sanctions , but he didn't come here to dismantle the nuclear program.

What is --

He's saying .I  think this is critical. He's  saying in his own words, I was able with a smiles to get the nuclear program completed. Now he's saying   I'm able with smiles and a few nice words to remove the sanctions and get Iran to stay within striking distance of nuclear bombs. Striking distance.

What is your red line? Would you take unilateral military action to stop his heavy water reactor from going online?

I think the common objective should be and I believe is, both United States and Israel and everyone else, to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons. I think if that can be done peacefully, that's the best for us and for everyone else. For it to be done peacefully, you don't want partial deals that leave Iran with the basic infrastructure to – you know , you remove sanctions that took years to put in place and  they  can reverse minor concessions within weeks. You don't want that. You want Iran to have its nuclear program fully dismantled. I think that is the crucial thing.

Was it a mistake for President Obama to call him?

I don't think the call is the essential  thing. The essential thing is the substance , what happens in the negotiations.  I think we don't let Iran get away with it. They have gotten away with it once in, Isfahan in the nuclear conversion plant that is so important for nuclear weapons. You can tell them, look, if you want to relief the sanctions dismantle your program entirely, then the sanctions will be removed. I wouldn't go on partial deals. John Kerry said the other day, a bad deal is worse than no deal, and a partial deal is a bad deal. Get the whole thing done and even then make sure that you have adequate supervision. I say distrust, verify. Distrust, dismantle, verify. These are my three words. Distrust, dismantle, verify. Don’t give up on these things.

Last year told the United Nations, you held up a drawing and you said , by the spring, by six months later  we  could have crossed that  red flag  line…

That is not what I said. I said – here is a red line. Iran is enriching uranium to higher and higher levels. If they continue enriching it to the same level,  then they will get to one bomb's worth critical fissile material, material that you can make a bomb.  Iran didn't cross the red line I drew at the U.N.  You know what it did?    It just  built a lot of piles of lower enriched --

How close are they now?

They also built something else. They built a capacity to take these piles of lower enriched  uranium and cross the  red line, very rapidly , within weeks , with advanced centrifuges , with many more centrifuges.

 That's where they have gotten since I gave that speech. But at the same time the sanctions have been put in place, I've argued. I think it's shown to be true, that the combination of very strong sanctions and a credible military threat will get them to reconsider. Now they are at the point where they are still on the ropes with sanctions but very close to the finish line. Who gives away first?  If the international community says, okay, lets relieve the sanctions, let’s relieve part of the sanctions, I think the whole sanctions regime could collapse. And that's what Rouhani wants. He wants sanctions to be lifted, even partly, and keep the mounds of material and keep not only material but machines in place in order to be able to rush through at a time of their choosing in the future. That's what's called breakout capacity. You don't want to give it to them.

Is there a credible military threat? President Obama had a military threat against Assad after the chemical attack. And, within hours one weekend he changed his mind about going ahead with military action. Do you think there's a credible American military threat if Iran approaches the breakout?

I heard the President say as much the other day.

Do you believe him?

I think so. I think it's American vital interest to prevent Iran from having nuclear weapons. You know why? Everybody knows Iran wants to destroy Israel. It's building, trying to build atomic bombs for that purpose.  But Iran already  has missiles to reach Israel. They are developing intercontinental ballistic missiles to reach you.  The prospect of nuclear terrorism is terrorism against you. Those long range ballistic missiles  have only one purpose in the world , their sole  purpose is to arm them with a nuclear payload.  You do not want to be in a position where this messianic, apocalyptic, radical regime, that has these wild ambitions, but nice spokesmen, gets away with building weapons of mass death.

 It Tokyo today, Secretary of State Kerry responded to Netanyahu's tough words to us about Iran:

It would be diplomatic malpractice of the worst order not to examine every possibility of whether or not you ican achieve that before you ask people to take military action. I assure Prime Minister Netanyahu and people of Israel that nothing that we do is going to be based on trust. II's going to be based on a series of steps that guarantee to all of us that we have certainty about what is happening. I that can't be achieved, as  have said to the Prime Minister, as the President has said to the Prime Minister, no deal is better than   a bad deal.