Last updated: 8 December, 2013

Netanyahu says military option necessary on Iran

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday that a “military option” was “necessary” for the success of negotiations aimed at reining in Iran’s disputed nuclear program.

Netanyahu said the Jewish state shared US President Barack Obama’s “preference” to pursue diplomacy “but for diplomacy to succeed, it must be coupled with powerful sanctions and a credible military threat.”

“A diplomatic solution is better than a military option but a military option is necessary for diplomacy to succeed as a powerful sanction because of the pressure,” he told a forum hosted by the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution, a Washington think tank.

Netanyahu’s remarks follow a landmark deal between world powers and Tehran under which the Islamic state will freeze or curb some of its atomic activities in return for limited relief from crippling international sanctions.

The interim six-month accord struck in Geneva on November 24 aims to build trust and buy time to resolve the years-long standoff with the West.

Without the prospect of a military option, sanctions “will begin to unravel” in the wake of last month’s deal, Netanyahu said via video link.

“Steps must be taken to prevent further erosion of the sanctions because ultimately the sanctions remain an essential element of the international effort to compel Iran to dismantle its nuclear military infrastructure, to take apart all its centrifuges,” he said.

“We shouldn’t assume that more and tougher sanctions won’t lead to a better deal.”

Iran has a long history of belligerent statements toward Israel, while the Jewish state has warned of military action to prevent a nuclear Iran that it says would pose an existential threat.

“Preventing Iran from achieving a nuclear weapon capability is the primary challenge of our generation because a nuclear Iran would literally change the course of history,” Netanyahu said.

He reiterated that the Iranian regime was “committed to our destruction,” adding that the international community must also demand it change its “genocidal policy.”

Speaking to the same forum on Saturday, Obama warned that Israel’s vision of an “ideal” nuclear agreement with Iran was unrealistic and put the chance of any acceptable final agreement emerging at no more than 50/50.