North Korea’s recent nuclear test is proof that sanctions against Iran’s nuclear program will fail if they are not coupled by a credible military threat, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu told The Jewish Agency Board of Governors on Monday morning in Jerusalem.

“The world has to decide whether it allows [Iran’s] terror regime that breaks all norms to have access to atomic bombs,” Netanyahu said.

North Korea was widely condemned last week after conducting its third nuclear test since 2006, defying UN resolutions and potentially putting the country closer to a workable long-range nuclear missile.

European Union governments agreed on Monday to tighten sanctions against North Korea, restricting the country’s ability to trade following last week’s nuclear test.

But in Jerusalem, Netanyahu said that the world had not done enough to stop North Korea’s nuclear program, just like it was now failing to halt Iran’s.

“Have tough sanctions stopped North Korea? No.”

Netanyahu said. “And the fact that they produced a nuclear explosion reverberates everywhere in the Middle East, and especially in Iran,” he said.

“They say, “Where is the world? Where is the international community? Where is the tough response?’ It’s a question that everybody deserves to ask,” Netanyahu said. “Sanctions alone will not stop the nuclear program of Iran. They have to be coupled with a robust, credible military threat. If they are not, there’s no chance to stop it. If they’re coupled with that military threat, there is a chance to stop it. And if it doesn’t stop it that way, then it will have to be stopped another way.”

He added that Iran had moved closer to the red line he set in the fall when he addressed the United Nations, charging that Tehran is building the rapid centrifuges needed to enrich uranium for a nuclear bomb.

Iran has criticized a reported plan by major powers to demand the closure of a uranium enrichment plant in return for an easing of sanctions on Tehran’s trade in gold and other precious metals, Iranian media reported on Monday.

On Sunday, Alaeddin Boroujerdi, chairman of Iran’s parliamentary Committee for Foreign Policy and National Security, said Fordow would never be shut down and that proposing its closure was “meant to help the Zionist regime.”

But in Jerusalem on Monday, Netanyahu said once he forms a government, stopping Iran’s nuclear program will be his highest priority.

It is also the most important issue that he plans to discuss with US President Barack Obama when he arrives in Israel for a visit this spring, Netanyahu said.

Iran, the prime minister said, “is conducting a worldwide web of terror – brazen, unabashed, across a dozen countries.” It has armed and enabled its “henchmen,” which are terror groups such as Hezbollah, Hamas and the Islamic Jihad, Netanyahu said.

“They’re conducting a brazen campaign of cyber attacks against everyone – against Israel, against the United States,” Netanyahu said, adding that a nuclear Iran will spark an unprecedented arms race.

“It will make the Middle East a nuclear tinderbox. It will change the world. We’ve not seen anything like it. We’ve not seen since the advent of nuclear weapons a power that could contemplate using those weapons with happy abandon – they say so. Nobody has said so since the Cuban missile crisis, over a half a century ago,” Netanyahu said.

But Iran, the prime minister, said was not the only threat in the unstable region.

Syria has “the most lethal weapons on earth, short of nuclear weapons,” Netanyahu said, which includes chemical weapons and advanced antiaircraft missile systems.

“Those weapons will be up for grabs if the Syrian regime collapses,” he said. “Israel can’t sit idly by and see these weapons transferred to Hezbollah or other terror groups. So we will do whatever is necessary to defend ourselves.”

Aside from Israel’s physical threats, it also faces the danger of delegitimization from those who want to eliminate the Jewish nation, Netanyahu said.

Hatred of Jews, which was politically improper after the Holocaust, has returned “in the renascent Islamist anti- Semitism” and “the anarchist left.”

Israel, Netanyahu said, is a “uniquely moral country” which observes human rights, fights for democracy and the rights of minorities.

“Yet, in spite of this, those who should know better have not stood up for Israel,” Netanyahu said. “The delegitimization of Israel in the face of the attempts to actually destroy it one of the great moral failures of our time.”

Reuters contributed to this report

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