WASHINGTON (AP) — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu took his case on Iran directly to U.S. voters Sunday, telling the American public in televised interviews that the White House must be willing to draw a “red line” on Tehran’s nuclear program, comparing Tehran’s nuclear program to Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh and reminding Americans of the devastating repercussions of failed intelligence.
“Our bottom line — if you want to call it a red line — the president’s bottom line has been that Iran will not acquire a nuclear weapon, and we will take no option off the table to ensure that it does not acquire a nuclear weapon, including military,” Rice later said.
But Netanyahu has said that’s not enough and employed historical examples known to most Americans to make his case: President John F. Kennedy’s demand that the Soviets remove its missiles sites in Cuba “maybe purchased decades of peace,” Netanyahu said. And absent a similar “red line,” then-Iraqi President Saddam Hussein faced a U.S. attack in 1991 after invading Kuwait.
“Maybe that war could have been avoided,” Netanyahu said.
Netanyahu also pointed to America’s inability to prevent the 9/11 hijackings as proof that intelligence can fail.
He insisted that his motivations were not political but reflected a key sense of urgency. Israeli officials point to Iranian enrichment of uranium, a key ingredient in building a bomb, the movement of Iranian nuclear research facilities to fortified underground bunkers impervious to attack and Iran‘s refusal to open its facilities to U.N. inspectors.
“I think that there’s a common interest of all Americans, of all political persuasions, to stop Iran,” he said. “This is a regime that is giving vent to the worst impulses that you see right now in the Middle East.”
Rice said the window to act “is not infinite” but that the sanctions “reached their high point in July.” Rice says that for the first time the Iranian economy is shrinking at a rate of negative 1 percent, Iranian oil production has dropped 40 percent over the last several months and their currency has plummeted 40 percent in that time as well.
“This pressure, even to use the Iranians own words, is crippling,” Rice said, adding, “What is clear is that Iran does not have a nuclear weapon.”
Netanyahu and Rice spoke on CNN’s “State of the Union” and NBC’s “Meet the Press.” Rice also spoke on “Fox News Sunday” and appeared on CBS’ “Face the Nation.”