Pres. Obama Should Adopt Red Line
The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) has applauded Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s call at the United Nations for world leaders to articulate a ‘red line’ on Iranian development of a nuclear weapons’ capacity which would warn Tehran to proceed further only at peril of a military strike. The ZOA is urging President Obama to adopt as U.S. policy Prime Minister Netanyahu’s proposal to impose clear red lines on Iran for the benefit the United States, not only Israel.
In his address to the United Nations General Assembly yesterday, after outlining the Iranian regime’s extremist version of Islam and its record of internal repression and external aggression, including worldwide terrorism, Mr. Netanyahu said:
“So I ask you, given this record of Iranian aggression without nuclear weapons, just imagine Iranian aggression with nuclear weapons. Imagine their long-range missiles tipped with nuclear warheads, their terror networks armed with atomic bombs. Who among you would feel safe in the Middle East? Who’d be safe in Europe? Who’d be safe in America? Who’d be safe anywhere?
Now, there are those who believe that a nuclear-armed Iran can be deterred like the Soviet Union. That’s a very dangerous assumption. Militant jihadists are not secular – militant jihadists behave very differently from secular Marxists.
There were no Soviet suicide bombers, yet Iran produces hordes of them. Deterrence worked with the Soviets because every time the Soviets faced a choice between their ideology and their survival, they chose their survival. But deterrence may not work with the Iranians once they get nuclear weapons.
There’s a great scholar of the Middle East, Professor Bernard Lewis, who put it best. He said that for the ayatollahs of Iran, mutually assured destruction is not a deterrent, it’s an inducement. Iran’s apocalyptic leaders believe that a medieval holy man will reappear in the wake of a devastating holy war, thereby ensuring that their brand of radical Islam will rule the earth. Now that’s not just what they believe. That’s what is actually guiding their policies and their actions.
Just listen to Ayatollah Rafsanjani, who said – I quote – ‘The use of even one nuclear bomb inside Israel will destroy everything. However, it would only harm the Islamic world.’
Rafsanjani said, ‘It is not irrational to contemplate such an eventuality’ – not irrational. And that’s coming from one of the so-called moderates of Iran.
Shockingly, some people have begun to peddle the absurd notion that a nuclear-armed Iran would actually stabilize the Middle East. Yeah, right. That’s like saying a nuclear-armed al-Qaida would usher in an era of universal peace.
Ladies and gentlemen, I’ve been speaking about the need to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons for over 15 years. I spoke about it in my first term in office as prime minister, and then I spoke about it when I left office. I spoke about it when it was fashionable and I spoke about it when it wasn’t fashionable.
I speak about it now because the hour is getting late, very late. I speak it about it now because the Iranian nuclear calendar doesn’t take time out for anyone or for anything. I speak about it now because when it comes to the survival of my country, it’s not only my right to speak, it’s my duty to speak.
And I believe that this is the duty of every responsible leader who wants to preserve world peace. For nearly a decade the international community has tried to stop the Iranian nuclear program with diplomacy. Well, that hasn’t worked. Iran uses diplomatic negotiations as a means to buy time to advance its nuclear program.
For over seven years — for over seven years the international community has tried sanctions with Iran. Under the leadership of President Obama, the international community has passed some of the strongest sanctions to date. I want to thank the governments represented here that have joined in this effort.
It’s had an effect. Oil exports have been curbed, and the Iranian economy has been hit hard. It’s had an effect on the economy, but we must face the truth: sanctions have not stopped Iran’s nuclear program either. According to the International Atomic Energy Agency, during the last year alone, Iran has doubled the number of centrifuges in its underground nuclear facility in Qom. So at this late hour, there’s only one way to peacefully prevent Iran from getting atomic bombs, and that’s by placing a clear red line on Iran’s nuclear weapons program.
Red lines don’t lead to war. Red lines prevent war. Just look at NATO’s charter. It made clear that an attack on one member country would be considered an attack on all, and NATO’s red line helped keep the peace in Europe for nearly half a century. President Kennedy set a red line during the Cuban missile crisis. That red line also prevented war and helped preserve the peace for decades.
In fact, it’s the failure to place red lines that’s often invited aggression. If the Western powers had drawn clear red lines during the 1930s, I believe they would have stopped Nazi aggression, and World War II might have been avoided. In 1990, if Saddam Hussein had been clearly told that his conquest of Kuwait would cross a red line, the first Gulf War might have been avoided. Clear red lines have also worked with Iran. Earlier this year, Iran threatened to close the Straits of Hormuz. The United States drew a clear red line, and Iran backed off.
Now, red lines could be drawn in different part of Iran’s nuclear weapons program, but to be credible, a red line must be drawn first and foremost in one vital part of their program, on Iran’s efforts to enrich uranium. Now, let me explain why.
Basically, any bomb consists of explosive material and a mechanism to ignite it. The simplest example is gunpowder and a fuse. That is, you light the fuse and you set off the gunpowder. In the case of Iran’s plans to build a nuclear weapon, the gunpowder is enriched uranium; the fuse is a nuclear detonator. For Iran, amassing enough enriched uranium is far more difficult than producing the nuclear fuse. For a country like Iran, it takes many, many years to enrich uranium for a bomb. That requires thousands of centrifuges spinning in tandem in big — very big industrial plants. Those uranium plants are visible, and they’re still vulnerable.
In contrast, Iran could produce the nuclear detonator, the fuse, in a lot less time, maybe under a year, maybe only a few months. The detonator can be made in a small workshop the size of a classroom. It may be very difficult to find and target that workshop, especially in Iran. That’s a country that’s bigger than France, Germany, Italy and Britain combined.
The same is true for the small facility in which they could assemble a warhead or a nuclear device that could be placed in a container ship. Chances are you won’t find that facility either. So in fact the only way that you can credibly prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon is to prevent Iran from amassing enough enriched uranium for a bomb.
So how much enriched uranium do you need for a bomb, and how close is Iran to getting it?
Well, let me show you. Brought a diagram for you. Here’s a diagram. This is a bomb. This is a fuse. In the case of Iran’s nuclear plans to build a bomb, this bomb has to be filled with enough enriched uranium. And Iran has to go through three stages. The first stage, they have to enrich enough low-enriched uranium. The second stage, they have to enrich enough medium-enriched uranium. And the third stage and final stage, they have to enrich enough high-enriched uranium for the first bomb.
Where’s Iran? Iran completed the first stage. Took them many years, but they completed it, and they’re 70 percent of the way there. Now they’re well into the second stage. And by next spring, at most by next summer at current enrichment rates, they will have finished the medium enrichment and move on to the final stage. From there, it’s only a few months, possibly a few weeks before they get enough enriched uranium for the first bomb.
Ladies and gentlemen, what I’ve told you now is not based on secret information. It’s not based on military intelligence. It’s based on the public reports of the International Atomic Energy Agency. Anybody can read them. They’re online. So if these are the facts – if these are the facts – and they are – where should a red line be drawn? A red line should be drawn right here – before – before Iran completes the second stage of nuclear enrichment necessary to make a bomb, before Iran gets to a point where it’s a few months away or a few weeks away from amassing enough enriched uranium to make a nuclear weapon. Now, each day that point is getting closer. And that’s why I speak today with such a sense of urgency, and that’s why everyone should have a sense of urgency.
Now, there are some who claim that even if Iran completes the enrichment process, even if it crosses that red line that I just drew, our intelligence agencies will know when and where Iran will make the fuse, assemble the bomb and prepare the warhead. Look, no one appreciates our intelligence agencies more than the prime minister of Israel. All these leading intelligence agencies are superb, including ours. They’ve foiled many attacks. They’ve saved many lives. But they are not foolproof. For over two years our intelligence agencies didn’t know that Iran was building a huge nuclear enrichment plant under a mountain. Do we want to risk the security of the world on the assumption that we would find in time a small workshop in a country half the size of Europe?
Ladies and gentlemen, the relevant question is not when Iran will get the bomb. The relevant question is at what stage can we no longer stop Iran from getting the bomb. The red line must be drawn on Iran’s nuclear enrichment program because these enrichment facilities are the only nuclear installations that we can definitely see and credibly target. And I believe that, faced with a clear red line, Iran will back down. And this will give more time for sanctions and diplomacy to convince Iran to dismantle its nuclear weapons program altogether” (‘Transcript: PM Netanyahu’s Speech to the United Nations General Assembly in New York,’ Jewish Press [New York], September 27, 2012).
ZOA National President Morton A. Klein said, “We applaud Prime Minister Netanyahu for placing at the top of the international agenda the vital issue of a red line beyond which the Iranian regime will not be permitted to cross in its quest for nuclear weapons.
“As he rightly insists, such a red line is not a prelude to war – to the contrary, it may be the only thing that might induce the dangerous, theocratic, extremist and terror-supporting Iranian regime to stop in its tracks and back down.
“No one can be certain that drawing a red line will prevent Iran taking the fateful steps of acquiring a nuclear weapons capacity. But we can be sure that, if we impose no red lines, we will end up with the horrific scenario of a nuclear Iran, virtually immune from any kind of retaliation, regardless of what it may then do.
“As the Israeli Prime Minister said, this is not only an Israeli existential issue. It has a special significance for the United States and the world as well.
“Whatever the political, economic and security risks for the U.S. that might be entailed by a last-resort military strike upon Iranian nuclear facilities, these will be as nothing against the shadow of nuclear blackmail under which America will be obliged to live once Iran gets such weapons.
“Even if Iran never fires them at the U.S., who really believes Iran won’t give such weapons to terrorists?
“And who believes that, once having such weapons, terrorists won’t use them on the U.S.?
“And even if neither uses them, what unending series of concessions and retreats will America have to undertake to ensure that this continues?
“Just one nuclear attack on an American city could break our will to resist. Think about it – Japan was fanatically opposed to surrendering in 1945. It took two atomic bombs to change its mind. Once Iran gets the bomb, our freedom and security may well compromised beyond anything we imagined.”