Wednesday, October 02, 2013

Arlene Kushner on Netanyahu's Speech to the UN -- Not the Usual Conciliatory Tone

From Arlene Kushner:
October 1, 2013

The Shock and the Pride

What had me close to speechless earlier today was a quote by the venerable (sic) US secretary of state, John Kerry.  (With thanks to IMRA for putting it up.)
The source here is Al-Arabiya, but there are other sources as well (e.g., AFP), because the quotes are taken from a "60 Minutes" broadcast.  Said Mr. Kerry (emphasis added):
"...a deal with Iran could be reached within months if Tehran proves that its nuclear program was not being used to build atomic weapons...

“We need to have a good deal here. And a good deal means that it is absolutely accountable, failsafe in its measures to make certain this is a peaceful program.

“If it is a peaceful program, and we can all see that - the whole world sees that - the relationship with Iran can change dramatically for the better and it can change fast...

"[the U.S. could consider lifting sanctions] by setting up a process that shows them how they can have this peaceful program without disturbing our efforts to make sure that no country is now going to build nuclear weapons."
Read: Excerpts: U.S. Sec.. State Kerry re Iran
Now, we all know that Kerry cannot be counted as one of the brightest secretaries of state the US has ever had.  But even Kerry cannot be this dumb -- to really, truly imagine that Iran's nuclear development is for peaceful purposes as they claim. 
And that's precisely what is so mind-blowing here: this is pretend.  Now we can understand why Kerry keeps talking about Iran "taking some enriched material out of the country," etc.  He's not trying to totally dismantle their nuclear effort.  (Which fact I have repeatedly pointed out.)  He's looking for a way to give them a free pass so that no confrontation is necessary.  Heaven forbid there should be confrontation.  Even an "unbelievable small" confrontation.  (I assume the allusion is obvious.)
Iran would not voluntarily permit the total dismantlement of its nuclear program, and achieving that goal would require confrontation.  (Or at the very least a military threat that the nation would have to be prepared to stand behind.)
And just in case Iran might not arrange things properly, to provide cover, Kerry is offering US help in setting up a peaceful program
Consider: IF the Iranians really had a peaceful nuclear program, would they require US help in setting up a peaceful nuclear program???? 
Only one response is appropriate here: AGHH!
IF Iran's nuclear plan is not peaceful (you think?), and if the Iranians lie and practice subterfuge (wow!), it might be fair to say that leaving them with enough nuclear material for what they refer to as peaceful purposes might result in its being otherwise diverted and misused.
There is one world leader, and only one, who is telling it like it is - refusing to put up with this nonsense.  And thus my great pride: For I am speaking of Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.
Benjamin Netanyahu 
Credit: Reuters
Today, standing at the podium of the UN General Assembly, he responded to the approach advanced by Kerry, described in vivid terms what the world was dealing with, and declared unequivocally that Israel will not tolerate a nuclear Iran.
He did this with conviction, and clarity, providing hard facts that should be grasped by all. Some excerpts (emphasis added):
"...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...

" 1979 a radical regime in Tehran tried to stamp out that [ancient Persian-Jewish] friendship. As it was busy crushing the Iranian people’s hope for democracy, it always led wild chants of 'death of the Jews.'

"Now, since that time, presidents of Iran have come and gone...they’ve all served that same unforgiving creed, that same unforgiving regime, that creed that is espoused and enforced by the real power in Iran, the dictator known 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...

"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...

"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 smoke screen of diplomatic engagement and very soothing rhetoric.

"Now I know: Rouhani doesn’t 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. Rouhani is a wolf in sheep’s clothing, a wolf who thinks he can pull the...wool over the eyes of the international community.

"Well, 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...

[Following...a series of contrast between Rouhani's words and Iranian actions.]

"Rouhani tells us not to worry. He assures us that all of this is not intended for nuclear weapons. Any of you believe that? If you believe that, here’s a few questions 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 tremendous cost 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 ICBMs to carry TNT thousands of miles away; you build them for one purpose, to carry nuclear warheads. And Iran is building now ICBMs that the United States says could reach this city in three or four years.

"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 1/2 percent, doubled it stockpile of 20 percent enriched uranium and added thousands of new centrifuges, including advanced centrifuges. It also continued work on the heavy water reactor in Iraq; that’s in order to have another route to the bomb, a plutonium path. Andsince Rouhani’s election — and I stress this — this vast and feverish effort has continued unabated.

"Last year when I spoke here at the U.N. I drew a red line. Now, 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 and much less prevent it.

"Yet Iran faces one big problem, and that problem can be summed up in one word: sanctions. 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.

"...the regime is under intense pressure from the Iranian people to get the sanctions relieved or 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 a strategy to achieve this. First, smile a lot...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 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 brags about this. Here’s what he said in his 2011 book about his time as Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator, and I quote: 'While we were talking to the Europeans in Tehran, we were installing equipment in Isfahan.'

"Now, for those of 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 — a calm environment — we were able to complete the work in Isfahan.' He fooled the world once. Now he thinks he can fool it again...

"Now, 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,' that it pledges to wipe Israel off the map. But they think that 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. And 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. The 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.

"And 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.

"...And to be meaningful, a diplomatic solution would require Iran to do four things. First, cease all uranium enrichment...Second, remove from Iran’s territory the stockpiles of enriched uranium. Third, dismantle the infrastructure for nuclear breakout capability, including the underground facility at Qom and the advanced centrifuges in Natanz.

"And, four, stop all work at the heavy water reactor in Iraq 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 his speech to Iran’s...Supreme Cultural Revolutionary Council. This was published in 2005. I quote. This is what he said:

"'A county that could enrich uranium to about 3.5 percent will also have the capability to enrich it to about 90 percent. Having fuel cycle capability virtually means that a country that possesses this capability is able to produce nuclear weapons.' Precisely. This is why Iran’s nuclear weapons program must be fully and verifiably dismantled. And this is why the pressure on Iran must continue.

"So here is what the international community must do: First, keep up 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 weapons program. My friends, the international community has Iran on the ropes. If you want to knock out Iran’s nuclear weapons program peacefully, don’t let up the pressure. Keep it up...

"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.
Read: Full text Netanyahu’s 2013 speech to the UN General Assembly
I have received a good deal of mail from my readers in recent days.  Some believe Netanyahu has already caved to Obama, and that he has no intention of hitting Iran in any event.  I wonder how many will have changed their minds in response to this UN speech.
I myself accept his absolute conviction on this issue and his determination to keep Iran from going nuclear.  He plays a good many games, and sometimes offers concessions that I would far prefer he did not. He sometimes is more conciliatory than seems wise (although he apparently sees the conciliation as wise, or at least necessary).
But this? This is different. His observations were so directly a response to the Obama administration policy, that there is no way to say he has caved on that score.  (You will notice, perhaps, that his tone here was decidedly different from the platitudes he offered in the Oval Office. He had said his speech at the UN would be determined by what he heard from Obama.)
And when he says Israel will not allow Iran to go nuclear, he means it. Binyamin Netanyahu did not assume his position as head of government in order to stand back and watch Israel face existential attack. 
I believe that to date Israel has kept Iran from going nuclear.  It is only Israel in all the world that makes Iran sit back and take notice - lest, indeed, we attack.  And it is because of Netanyahu's red line of a year ago, that Iran has tempered its progress so as to not (yet) cross it. 
There is a prophetic quality to the prime minister's warnings to the world.  The danger is real, he knows whereof he speaks. But to a considerable degree, the world has preferred not to listen.
I cannot say what response there will be to this speech, and how it might affect US policy (via Congressional and electoral opinion, in spite of Obama).  But I am mighty glad he gave it.
As to Israel attacking, it is still my best understanding that, while we cannot totally take out their nuclear development capability (because it has gone underground and the US will not sell us those monster bunker busters), we can do damage that will set Iran back some years.  Obama might make it more difficult for us, but I don't believe he can prevent our action.
Obviously, Netanyahu would prefer that the world heeded his advice so that no attack would be necessary.  That depends upon the world...
There is one other approach in this speech that particularly pleased me:  He didn't tie Israel to the Holocaust, or even to the Mandate for Palestine or the Balfour Declaration (as valuable as these things are).  He looked back to our beginnings and made it clear that we are the aboriginal people here - that this land is ours, truly from time immemorial.  He began thus:
"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 re-established our sovereign state in our ancestral homeland, the land of Israel."
This is fantastic stuff.
Then, in ending, he tied our presence here to the Bible:
"In our time the Biblical prophecies are being 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.'

(In Hebrew.)

"Ladies and gentlemen, the people of Israel have come home never to be uprooted again."
And I say, "Amen."  And thank you, Mr. Prime Minister.
© Arlene Kushner. This material is produced by Arlene Kushner, functioning as an independent journalist. Permission is granted for it to be reproduced only with proper attribution. 

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