PM Netanyahu's Speech at the United Nations General Assembly 01/10/2013
I feel deeply honored and privileged to stand here before you today
representing the citizens of the State of Israel.
We are an ancient people. We date back nearly 4,000 years to Abraham,
Isaac, and Jacob. We have journeyed through time, we've overcome the
greatest of adversities, And we reestablished our sovereign state in our
ancestral homeland, the Land of Israel.
The Jewish people's odyssey through time has taught us two things: Never
give up hope. Always remain vigilant.
Hope charts the future. Vigilance protects it.
Today, our hope for the future is challenged by a nuclear-armed Iran that
seeks our destruction. But I want you to know: that wasn't always the case.
Some 2500 years ago, the great Persian King Cyrus ended the Babylonian exile
of the Jewish people. He issued a famous edict in which he proclaimed the
right of the Jews to return to the Land of Israel and rebuild the Jewish
Temple in Jerusalem. That's a Persian decree, and thus began an historic
friendship between the Jews and the Persians that lasted until modern times.
But in 1979, a radical regime in Tehran tried to stamp out that friendship.
As it was busy crushing the Iranian people's hopes for democracy, it also
led wild chants of "Death to the Jews!" Now, since that time, Presidents of
Iran have come and gone. Some presidents were considered moderates, others
hardliners. But they've all served that same unforgiving creed, that same
unforgetting regime – that creed that is espoused and enforced by the real
power in Iran, the dictator known in Iran as the Supreme Leader, first
Ayatollah Khomeini and now Ayatollah Khamenei. President Rouhani, like the
presidents who came before him is a loyal servant of the regime. He was one
of only six candidates the regime permitted to run for office. Nearly 700
other candidateswere rejected.
So what made him acceptable? Well, Rouhani headed Iran's Supreme National
Security Council from 1989 through 2003. During that time, Iran's henchmen
gunned down opposition leaders in a Berlin restaurant. They murdered 85
people at the Jewish Community Center in Buenos Aires. They killed 19
American soldiers by blowing up the Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia.
Are we to believe that Rouhani, the National Security Advisor of Iran at the
time, knew nothing about these attacks?
Of course he did.
Just as 30 years ago, Iran's security chiefs knew about the bombings in
Beirut that killed 241 American Marines and 58 French Paratroopers.
Rouhani was also Iran's chief nuclear negotiator between 2003 and 2005. He
masterminded the strategy which enabled Iran to advance its nuclear weapons
program behind a smokescreen of diplomatic engagement and very soothing
rhetoric. Now I know Rouhani does not sound like Ahmadinejad. But when it
comes to Iran's nuclear weapons program, the only difference between them is
this: Ahmadinejad was a wolf in wolf's clothing and Rouhani is a wolf in
sheep's clothing – a wolf who thinks he can pull the wool over the eyes of
the international community.
Like everyone else, I wish we could believe Rouhani's words. But we must
focus on Iran's actions.
And it’s the brazen contrast, this extraordinary contradiction between
Rouhani's words and Iran's actions that is so startling. Rouhani stood at
this very podium last week and praised Iranian democracy. Iranian
democracy, he said.
But the regime that he represents executes political dissidents by the
hundreds and jails them by the thousands. Rouhani spoke of "the human
tragedy in Syria." Yet Iran directly participates in Assad’s murder and
massacre of tens of thousands of innocent men, women, and children in Syria,
and that regime is propping up a Syrian regime that just used chemical
weapons against its own people.
Rouhani condemned the "violent scourge of terrorism." Yet in the last three
years alone Iran has ordered, planned or perpetrated terrorist attacks in 25
cities on five continents.
Rouhani denounces "attempts to change the regional balance through proxies."
Yet Iran is actively destabilizing Lebanon, Yemen, Bahrain, and many other
Middle Eastern countries.
Rouhani promises "constructive engagement with other countries." Yet two
years ago, Iranian agents tried to assassinate Saudi Arabia's ambassador in
And just three weeks ago, an Iranian agent was arrested trying to collect
information for possible attacks against the American Embassy in Tel Aviv.
Some constructive engagement!
I wish I could be moved by Rouhani's invitation to join his "WAVE" –a world
against violence and extremism. Yet the only waves Iran has generated in
the last 30 years are waves of violence and terrorism that it has unleashed
on the region and across the world.
Ladies and Gentlemen, I wish I could believe Rouhani, but
I don't because facts are stubborn things. And the facts are that Iran's
savage record flatly contradicts Rouhani's soothing rhetoric.
Last Friday, Rouhani assured us that in pursuit of its nuclear program, Iran
has "never chosen deceit… and secrecy." Never chosen deceit and secrecy?!
Well, in2002, Iran was caught red-handed secretly building an underground
centrifuge facility at Natanz. Then in 2009, Iran was again caught
red-handed secretly building a huge underground nuclear facility for uranium
enrichment in a mountain near Qom. Rouhani tells us not to worry; he
assures us that all this is not intended for nuclear weapons. Do any of you
believe that? If you believe that, here's a few questions that you might
want to ask:
Why would a country that claims to only want peaceful nuclear energy, why
would such a country build hidden underground enrichment facilities?
Why would a country with vast natural energy reserves invest billions in
developing nuclear energy?
Why would a country intent on merely civilian nuclear programs continue to
defy multiple Security Council resolutions and incur the costs of crippling
sanctions on its economy?
And why would a country with a peaceful nuclear program develop
intercontinental ballistic missiles whose sole purpose is to deliver nuclear
warheads? You don't build ICBM's to carry TNT thousands of miles away. You
build them for one purpose – to carry nuclear warheads. And Iran is now
building ICBM's that the United States says can reach this city in three or
Why would they do all this? The answer is simple. Iran is not building a
peaceful nuclear program. Iran is developing nuclear weapons.
Last year alone, Iran enriched three tons of uranium to 3.5%, doubled its
stockpile of 20% enriched uranium, and added thousands of new centrifuges,
including advanced centrifuges. It also continued work on the heavy water
reactor in Arak. That's in order to have another route to the bomb – a
And since Rouhani's election – and I stress this – this vast and feverish
effort has continued unabated. Ladies and gentlemen,
Underground nuclear facilities?
Heavy water reactors?
It's not that it's hard to find evidence that Iran has a nuclear weapons
program. It's hard to find evidence that Iran doesn’t have a nuclear weapons
Last year when I spoke here at the UN, I drew a red line. Iran has been
very careful not to cross that line. But Iran is positioning itself to race
across that line in the future at a time of its choosing. Iran wants to be
in a position to rush forward to build nuclear bombs before the
international community can detect it, much less prevent it.
Yet Iran faces one big problem, and that problem is summed up in one word:
I have argued for many years, including on this podium, that the only way to
peacefully prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons is to combine tough
sanctions with a credible military threat. And that policy is today bearing
fruit. Thanks to the effort of many countries, many represented here, and
under the leadership of the United States, tough sanctions have taken a big
bite out of Iran's economy. Oil revenues have fallen. The currency has
plummeted. Banks are hard pressed to transfer money.
So as a result, the regime is under intense pressure from the Iranian people
to get the sanctions removed. That's why Rouhani got elected in the first
place. That's why he launched his charm offensive.
He definitely wants to get the sanctions lifted, I guarantee you that, but
he doesn't want to give up Iran's nuclear weapons program in return.
Now, here's the strategy to achieve this:
First, smile a lot. Smiling never hurts. Second, pay lip service to peace,
democracy and tolerance. Third, offer meaningless concessions in exchange
for lifting sanctions. And fourth, and the most important, ensure that Iran
retains sufficient nuclear material and sufficient nuclear infrastructure to
race to the bomb at a time that it chooses to do so. You know why Rouhani
thinks he can get away with this? I mean, this is a ruse; it's a ploy. Why
does Rouhani think he can get away with it? Because he's gotten away with
it before. Because his strategy of talking a lot and doing little has
worked for him in the past. He even bragged about it. Here's what he said
in his 2011 book about his time as Iran's chief nuclear negotiator: "While
we were talking to the Europeans in Tehran, we were installing equipment in
For those who you who don't know, the Isfahan facility is an indispensable
part of Iran's nuclear weapons program. That's where uranium ore called
yellowcake is converted into an enrichable form. Rouhani boasted, and I
quote: "By creating a calm environment, we were able to complete the work in
He fooled the world once. Now he thinks he can fool it again. You see,
Rouhani thinks he can have his yellowcake and eat it too.
And he has another reason to believe that he can get away with this, and
that reason is called North Korea.
Like Iran, North Korea also said its nuclear program was for peaceful
purposes. Like Iran, North Korea also offered meaningless concessions and
empty promises in return for sanctions relief. In 2005, North Korea agreed
to a deal that was celebrated the world over by many well-meaning people.
Here is what the New York Times editorial had to say about it: "For years
now, foreign policy insiders have pointed to North Korea as the ultimate
nightmare... a closed, hostile and paranoid dictatorship with an aggressive
nuclear weapons program.
Very few could envision a successful outcome.
And yet North Korea agreed in principle this week to dismantle its nuclear
weapons program, return to the NPT, abide by the treaty's safeguards and
admit international inspectors….
Diplomacy, it seems, does work after all."
Ladies and Gentlemen,
A year later, North Korea exploded its first nuclear weapons device.
Yet as dangerous as a nuclear-armed North Korea is, it pales in comparison
to the danger of a nuclear-armed Iran. A nuclear-armed Iran would have a
chokehold on the world's main energy supplies. It would trigger nuclear
proliferation throughout the Middle East, turning the most unstable part of
the planet into a nuclear tinderbox. And for the first time in history, it
would make the specter of nuclear terrorism a clear and present danger.
A nuclear-armed Iran in the Middle East wouldn't be another North Korea. It
would be another 50 North Koreas!
I know that some in the international community think I'm exaggerating this
threat. Sure, they know that Iran's regime leads these chants, "Death to
America!", "Death to Israel!", then it pledges to wipe Israel off the map.
But they think this wild rhetoric is just bluster for domestic consumption.
Have these people learned nothing from history?
The last century has taught us that when a radical regime with global
ambitions gets awesome power, sooner or later, its appetite for aggression
knows no bounds. That's the central lesson of the 20th century. Now, we
cannot forget it.
The world may have forgotten this lesson. The Jewish people have not.
Iran's fanaticism is not bluster. It's real. This fanatic regime must
never be allowed to arm itself with nuclear weapons.
I know that the world is weary of war. We in Israel, we know all too well
the cost of war. But history has taught us that to prevent war tomorrow, we
must be firm today.
This raises the question: Can diplomacy stop this threat?
Well, the only diplomatic solution that would work is one that fully
dismantles Iran's nuclear weapons program and prevents it from having one in
the future. President Obama rightly said that Iran's conciliatory words
must be matched by transparent, verifiable and meaningful action, and to be
meaningful, a diplomatic solution would require Iran to do four things.
First, cease all uranium enrichment. This is called for by several Security
Council resolutions. Second, remove from its territory the stockpiles of
enriched uranium. Third, dismantle the infrastructure for a nuclear
breakout capability, including the underground facility near Qom and the
advanced centrifuges in Natanz. And four, stop all work at the heavy water
reactor in Arak aimed at the production of plutonium.
These steps would put an end to Iran's nuclear weapons program and eliminate
its breakout capability. There are those who would readily agree to leave
Iran with a residual capability to enrich uranium. I advise them to pay
close attention to what Rouhani said in a speech to Iran's Supreme Cultural
Revolutionary Council. This was published in 2005: "A country that can
enrich uranium to about 3.5% will also have the capability to enrich it to
about 90%. Having fuel cycle capability virtually means that a country that
possesses this capability is able to produce nuclear weapons.
Precisely. This is precisely why Iran's nuclear weapons program must be
fully and verifiably dismantled. And this is why the pressure on Iran must
So here's what the international community must do. First, keep up the
sanctions. If Iran advances its nuclear weapons program during
negotiations, strengthen the sanctions.
Second, don't agree to a partial deal. A partial deal would lift
international sanctions that have taken years to put in place in exchange
for cosmetic concessions that will take only weeks for Iran to reverse.
Third, lift the sanctions only when Iran fully dismantles its nuclear
The international community has Iran on the ropes. If you want to knockout
Iran's nuclear weapons program peacefully, don't let up the pressure. Keep
We all want to give diplomacy with Iran a chance to succeed. But when it
comes to Iran, the greater the pressure, the greater the chance.
Three decades ago, President Ronald Reagan famously advised: Trust but
verify. When it comes to Iran's nuclear weapons program, here's my advice:
Distrust, Dismantle, and Verify.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Israel will never acquiesce to nuclear arms in the hands of a rogue regime
that repeatedly promises to wipe us off the map. Against such a threat,
Israel will have no choice but to defend itself. I want there to be no
confusion on this point: Israel will not allow Iran to get nuclear weapons.
If Israel is forced to stand alone, Israel will stand alone. Yet in
standing alone, Israel will know that we will be defending many, many
others. The dangers of a nuclear-armed Iran and the emergence of other
threats in our region have led many of our Arab neighbors to finally
recognize that Israel is not their enemy. This affords us the opportunity
to overcome historic animosities and build new relationships, new
friendships, new hopes. Israel welcomes engagement with the wider Arab
world. We hope that our common interests and common challenges will help us
forge a more peaceful future.
And Israel continues to seek an historic peace with our Palestinian
neighbors, one that ends our conflict once and for all. We want a peace
based on security and mutual recognition in which a demilitarized
Palestinian state recognizes the Jewish state of Israel. I remain committed
to achieving an historic conciliation and building a better future for
Israelis and Palestinians alike.
Now, I have no illusions about how difficult this will be to achieve.
Twenty years ago, the peace process between Israel and the Palestinians
began. Six Israeli Prime Ministers, myself included, have not succeeded in
achieving peace with the Palestinians. My predecessors were prepared to
make painful concessions. So am I.
But so far, Palestinian leaders haven't been prepared to offer the painful
concessions they must make to end the conflict. For peace to be achieved,
the Palestinians must finally recognize the Jewish state and Israel's
security needs must be met. I am prepared to make an historic compromise
for a genuine and enduring peace. But I will never compromise on the
security of my people and of my country of the one and only Jewish state.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
One cold day in the late 19th century, my grandfather Nathan and his younger
brother Judah were standing in a railway station in the heart of Europe.
They were seen by a group of anti-Semitic hoodlums who ran towards them
waving clubs, screaming, "Death to the Jews!"
My grandfather shouted to his younger brother to flee and save himself. And
he then stood alone against the raging mob to slow it down. They beat him
senseless. They left him for dead. Before he passed out, covered in his
own blood, he said to himself: "What a disgrace! What a disgrace! The
descendants of the Maccabees lie in the mud, powerless to defend
He promised himself then that if he lived, he would take his family to the
Jewish homeland to help build a future for the Jewish people. I stand here
today as Israel's Prime Minister because my grandfather kept that promise.
So many other Israelis have a similar story: a parent or a grandparent who
fled every conceivable oppression, and came to Israel to start a new life in
our ancient homeland.
Together, we've transformed a bludgeoned Jewish people left for dead into a
vibrant, thriving nation, defending itself with the courage of modern
Maccabees, developing limitless possibilities for the future.
In our time, the biblical prophecies have been realized: As the prophet Amos
said: They shall rebuild ruined cities and inhabit them,
They shall plant vineyards and drink their wine,
They shall till gardens and eat their fruit.
And I will plant them upon their soil, never to be uprooted again.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The people of Israel have come home, never to be uprooted again.