06 March 2012
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said time is running out to put a stop to Iran's nuclear programme. In a speech to the AIPAC Conference in Washington, Netanyahu used the example of 1944 correspondance from the World Jewish Congress (WJC) to counter claims from some quarters that the option of military action to stop Iran's nuclear program would be more dangerous that allowing the rogue state to develop nuclear weapons.
In 1944, the WJC wrote to the US War Department asking it to bomb the Auschwitz concentration camp to stop the murder of millions of Jews. However, the War Department replied that "such an effort might provoke even more vindictive action" by the Germans and chose to do nothing. Netanyahu said that Israel was "determined to prevent Iran having nuclear weapons but unfortunately, Iran's nuclear programme has continued to march forward." He stressed that all options were on the table, but that containment - leaving Iran to develop its programme under monitoring - was not an option. "Israel has waited for diplomacy to work, we've waited for sanctions to work. None of us can afford to wait much longer. As prime minister of Israel I will never let my people live in the shadow of annihilation."
In a meeting with Netanyahu at the White House on Monday, US President Barak Obama said the bond between their countries was "unbreakable". He said the US believed there was "still a window that allows for a diplomatic resolution", on Iran, but added that the US would consider all options. "I know that both the prime minister and I prefer to resolve this diplomatically," Obama said. "We understand the costs of any military action." For his part, Mr Netanyahu said: "I believe that's why you appreciate, Mr. President, that Israel must reserve the right to defend itself." He went on to add that Israel must remain "the master of its fate".
In his own address to the annual AIPAC gathering on Sunday, Obama said there had been too much "loose talk" of war with Iran, which was benefiting Tehran as it was driving up the price of oil, which funds the nuclear programme. He said Iran was isolated and there was an opportunity "for diplomacy - backed by pressure - to succeed. Iran's leaders should know that I do not have a policy of containment - I have a policy to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. And as I've made clear time and again during the course of my presidency, I will not hesitate to use force when it is necessary to defend the United States and its interests."
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