Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned the US not to embrace Iran in its fight against Islamic State (ISIS), stating: “Iran is not a partner of America. It’s an enemy of America.”
There have been suggestions that Iran can help solve the problem of extremism in the Middle East, but nothing could be further from the truth, said Netanyahu.
“Iran is not part of the solution. It’s a huge part of the problem,” Netanyahu said.
“As I said to the United Nations a few months ago, to defeat ISIS and allow Iran to be a threshold nuclear power would be to win the battle and lose the war,” the prime minister said.
He spoke via video on Tuesday afternoon to the Jewish Federations of North America’s General Assembly, which met this week in National Harbor, Maryland.
The danger of a nuclear Iran figured prominently in his address, even though the US, the EU and Iran failed to bridge the gaps between them during two days of discussions in Oman. Talks between US Secretary of State John Kerry, European Union envoy Catherine Ashton and Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi were held in advance of a November 24th deadline for an agreement to halt Tehran’s nuclear program.
As the deadline draws closer, Israel has become increasingly concerned that the six world powers involved in the negotiations would settle for an agreement that made some gains, but left Iran with the capacity to build nuclear weapons.
Extensive briefings from their American counterparts have led Israeli officials to say they won't be able to accept the terms of any agreement that might emerge from talks between Iran and the six world powers: the US, Russia, China, France, Great Britain and Germany.
“Instead of holding firm and demanding that Iran dismantle its program, the international community is reportedly — and I hope these reports do not prove to be true — willing to leave Iran’s nuclear program largely intact,” Netanyahu said.
Planning for that contingency, leading Israeli and pro-Israel figures are gearing up a concerted public relations effort intended to degrade the merits and wisdom of such a deal.
Israel on Monday sent a letter to the foreign ministers of the six world powers describing its concerns. Netanyahu has also ratcheted up his rhetoric on Iran.
An agreement is not the only diplomatic tool that could be used to halt Iran’s nuclear program, Netanyahu said.
In the past, Netanyahu has often spoken of the importance of a credible military threat in forcing Iran to halt its nuclear program. But on Tuesday afternoon he veered away from that message and focused on diplomacy, noting that failure to reach an agreement with Iran did not mean that war was the only other option.
“The alternative to a bad deal is not war," he said.
Stiff economic sanctions could sway Iran to dismantle its nuclear program, he said.
“The worst thing that can happen now is for the international community to agree to a deal that leaves Iran as a threshold nuclear power and removes the sanctions,” Netanyahu said.
A nuclear Iran “would be a disaster of historic proportion,” Netanyahu said. It would trigger a nuclear arms race between Sunnis and Shi’ites that could endanger “the entire planet,” the prime minister added.
It would also strengthen Iran’s terrorist proxies in the region, Netanyahu said.
“The greatest threat facing our world is to have the forces of militant Islam get the bomb,” Netanyahu said. "That must never be allowed to happen, for Israel’s sake, for the peace in the Middle East, for the peace and security of the entire world.”