Netanyahu: US, Israel discussing 'verifiable' Iranian steps on nuclear program

The prime minister likens Iran to 'suicide bomber;' says Iranians will never get rid of tyranny if regime gets bomb.

PM Netanyahu with PBS' Charlie Rose 370 (photo credit: GPO / Kobi Gideon)
PM Netanyahu with PBS' Charlie Rose 370
(photo credit: GPO / Kobi Gideon)
The US and Israel are discussing what steps Iran could take that would be “verifiable and meaningful” and indicate that it is indeed stopping its nuclear program, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said before leaving the US on Thursday evening.
Netanyahu made the comments in a 45-minute interview with PBS/CBS interviewer Charlie Rose, who pressed him to spell out the differences that existed between him and US President Barack Obama on the Iranian file.
The prime minister praised Obama for saying publicly and privately that steps and transparent actions, not just words, were needed from Iran.
“What we’re talking about right now,” he said, was “what are the meaningful actions that will do the job.”
The Rose interview was one of eight high-profile interviews that Netanyahu gave to the US media since his speech on Tuesday at the UN, where he slammed Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and vowed that Israel would take action alone, if necessary, to stop Iran from getting nuclear weapons.
In addition to Rose, there were interviews over the past two days with BBC’s Persian language service, NBC’s Andrea Mitchell, the Hispanic Univision network, CNN, Fox News, NPR and one of Sunday’s major political talk shows.
In the BBC Persian service interview – a first for him – Netanyahu said that what he was saying to the world was to “keep up the pressure and for God’s sake don’t let them have nuclear weapons.”
He said this was “not only for us, but also for the Americans, Europeans, Arabs and – you know what I am adding here – you the people of Iran, you the Persians. You don’t want them to have nuclear weapons, because you will never get rid of this tyranny if it is armed with nuclear weapons.”
Netanyahu told Rose that he and Obama held three hours of talks on Monday.
When asked whether they were on the same page, Netanyahu said: “It was an open conversation between open-minded people.”
He added that he believed the US and Israel, working together, could get to a common policy and that the American position was not yet “crystallized.”
The prime minister said there had been no confrontation with Obama and that Israel did not object to testing the diplomatic route.
“The question is, what is a deal that does it?” he said.
Netanyahu made clear that at this point his biggest concern was that the talks could lead to a partial deal providing Iran with sanctions relief in return for minor concessions that would not materially hurt its nuclear infrastructure.
The prime minister quoted US Secretary of State John Kerry as saying that a bad deal on Iran would be worse than no deal. “And I guess my point is that a partial deal is a bad deal. Because when you lift the sanctions for some minor stuff that they do, or partial thing that they do, it takes years to put the sanctions in place.”
According to Netanyahu, there are “a lot of countries who are just waiting to lift the sanctions,” something that could make the whole sanctions regime collapse.
He said the last thing Israel, the US or some “significant European countries” were interested in was to “let Iran wiggle away with a smile campaign.”
The prime minister, obviously intent on framing the Iranian issue as an American problem as much as an Israeli one, stressed on two occasions that Tehran was developing intercontinental ballistic missiles to hit the US, since it already had the missile capacity to strike Israel.
Regarding where Iran stands in the development of its nuclear program, Netanyahu explained that the Iranians were close to a point where they would have enough enriched uranium at lower levels “to be able to punch through and enrich it very rapidly within a matter of weeks to get highenriched uranium that could be used for a bomb.”
He took issue with the oftheard argument that Iran had a “natural right to enrich uranium,” by saying that countries do not need to enrich uranium – something needed for a military program – to harness nuclear power for civilian needs. Seventeen countries, including Canada and Mexico, had civilian nuclear energy without enriching uranium, he said.
Netanyahu likened Iran, which he said was controlled by a “cult,” to a suicide bomber.
“We’ve had a lot of them,” he explained. “The suicide bomber, as he’s driving on the way to board the bus, he obeys the traffic laws, he says the right things. Once he gets on the bus, bam.”
Regarding peace negotiations with the Palestinians, Netanyahu said that while it was true that Jews had preceded them in the area by “thousands of years,” it was “true also that they’re here.”
The crux of the negotiations from Israel’s point of view, he explained, was to create a situation where Israel did not get the worst of all worlds: to leave land that is both strategically important and the Jewish people’s historical cradle, and also to “get Iran.”
Effectively, he said, when Israel left Lebanon and Gaza it received Iranian proxies in return.
“We cannot have it happen a third time,” he said. “So we have to have a different arrangement. And that arrangement will mean that Israel will have to have a long-term military presence along the Jordan River to prevent this area, this Palestinian state, from being perforated by Iranian agents from Jordan.”