Netanyahu and Obama Threaten Iran
July 15, 2013
Jason Ditz / AntiWar.com & Lazar Berman / The Times of Israel & Barak Ravid / Haaretz
Appearing on "Face the Nation," Israel's PM Benjamin Netanyahu, again threatened to attack Iran and refused to answer questions about reports that Israel had carried out an airstrike in northern Syria. Although, Iran's new leader, Hassan Rohani, has asked for direct talks with the US, President Barack Obama's administration has reportedly assured Israeli officials that the US will not ease pressure on Iran but will increase sanctions and pressures.
Netanyahu Threatens to Attack Iran
Jason Ditz / AntiWar.com
(July 14, 2013) -- Because it's TV, and because it's the only thing he cares to talk about at most of his public appearances, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu threatened to attack Iran today, insisting during an appearance on CBS that Iran is nearing the "red line" and must be stopped "before it's too late."
If any of this sounds familiar, it's because Netanyahu issues essentially the same statement every few days, and his government has been predicting Iran would cross the "red line" they made up within six months, and reissuing that prediction every six months like clockwork.
Netanyahu also made a public point in his nominally private cabinet meeting today of demanding "more credible" threats for the US to attack Iran, and more international sanctions against Iran.
Though couched as a reaction to Iran, the nation hasn’t actually done anything new in the past six months, and with respect to nuclear weapons doesn't appear to have done anything at all in several years. Netanyahu's calls for more threats and sanctions, rather, appear to be tantamount to blackmail, demanding the US give in to his whims and threatening to start a huge regional war that the US would get sucked into if they don’t give in.
Netanyahu Pledges to Thwart Iran ‘Before It’s Too Late’
Lazar Berman / The Times of Israel
TEL AVIV (July 14, 2013) -- Israel's prime minister insisted Sunday that he would act to keep Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons, and also that he would not allow "dangerous weapons" to reach Lebanon's Hezbollah terrorists -- following reports that Israel recently carried out an airstrike in northern Syria against a shipment of advanced missiles.
Speaking to CBS’s Face the Nation, Netanyahu refused to confirm or deny his country's role in an attack on a Syrian missile depot earlier in the month, despite several reports of American officials pointing to Israel as behind the strike.
"My policy is to prevent the transfer of dangerous weapons to Hezbollah in Lebanon and other terror groups as well. And we stand by that policy," he said.
The airstrike in Latakia reportedly targeted Russian Yakhont anti-ship missiles, one of the types of advanced weapons that Israeli officials have previously said they would not allow to reach Syria. Foreign reports indicate it could be the fourth Israeli airstrike against Syria this year, though Israel has confirmed none of them.
Israel has been closely watching the Syrian conflict since it erupted in March 2011. While officials say it has been careful not to take sides in the civil war, Israel has repeatedly said it would take action to prevent what it calls "game changing" weapons, including chemical weapons and advanced guided missiles, from reaching Hezbollah or other hostile militant groups.
Netanyahu called on the US to harden its position toward Iran until Tehran stops all nuclear enrichment and dismantles the Qom reactor, among other steps. "If sanctions don't work," he urged, "then they have to know that you’ll be prepared to take military action."
Netanyahu also pointed out that he has "a feeling there is no sense of urgency on Iran." It was unclear, however, who exactly he was referring to by that statement.
Throughout the interview, Netanyahu made sure to send a stern message about Israel's resolve to prevent the Islamic Republic from achieving a nuclear weapon. "If they think that Israel will let them do it," he said, "they're sorely mistaken.
"I won’t wait until it's too late," he promised.
Earlier in the day, Netanyahu made a similar appeal to his Cabinet, calling for a “credible military threat” against Iran, together with harsher sanctions.
In response to host Bob Schieffer's question whether the Obama administration has been too patient with Iran, Netanyahu hinted there is indeed disagreement between the two sides. "Our clocks are ticking at a different pace," he said. "We're closer [to Iran] than the United States, we’re more vulnerable." Israel might have to address the question of how to stop Iran before the United States does, the prime minister noted.
Despite the election of Hasan Rouhani, the new Iranian president, pressure should remain on the Islamic Republic, Netanyahu told CBS. "There's a new president in Iran," he said. "He's criticizing his predecessor for being a wolf in wolf's clothing. His strategy is to be a wolf in sheep's clothing. Smile and build a bomb."
Netanyahu claimed that Iran had "taken heed" of the red line he laid out last fall at the UN, but, he warned, "they are still approaching it; and they are approaching it after the Iranian elections."
Netanyahu stressed the potential threat Iran posed to the United States. "They are building ICBMs to reach the American mainland within a few years...," he said. "They don’t need these missiles to reach us."
The interview touched on other regional issues as well. Schieffer asked Netanyahu if he was happy with the ouster of Egyptian president Mohammed Morsi. "We've been concerned with one thing," answered Netanyahu, "and that is the maintenance of the Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty." He called it the "cornerstone of peace between us and our neighbors."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
US Promises Israel:
New Iranian President Will Be Met With Hostility
(July 14, 2013) -- Last month, US officials were greeting the election of Reformist candidate Hassan Rohani as Iran's next president as a hopeful sign, while simultaneously patting themselves on the back and taking credit for his election.
But if Rohani was really the candidate the US wants, they have a funny way of showing it, as US diplomats are now reassuring Israelis that the US will treat Rohani with intense hostility, and will up the sanctions and threats against Iran going forward.
The promises appear designed to assuage Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who fears that Rohani's election has spoiled his assorted war plans and has been railing about the need to threaten Iran more often every chance he gets.
Rohani has already called for direct talks with the US, and while the State Department was quick to issue a statement of its own to virtually the same effect, it isn't clear if the talks will ever actually happen, with Israel too likely to fly off the handle if the US participates and US hawks eager to treat whoever wins Iran’s election as the next "enemy."
Washington Promises Israel:
More Pressure on Iran, Not Less
Barak Ravid / Haaretz
WASHINGTON (July 14, 2013) -- While Hassan Rohani's election considered a positive step, the US "intends to judge the Iranians according to their actions and not according to their words," American officials tell Haaretz.
US President Barack Obama's administration has assured Israeli officials that the United States will not ease pressure on Iran to curb its nuclear program following the election of Iranian President Hassan Rohani, US diplomatic sources said.
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