Netanyahu began his remarks with a brief reflection on Yom Kippur – both the tragedy that the Jewish people have faced and the great success modern Israel has experienced in science, technology, agriculture and medicine.
From there, Netanyahu transitioned to the Iranian threat. He equated the threat of a nuclear-armed Iran to that of a nuclear-armed al-Qaeda.
“It makes no difference whether these lethal weapons are in the hands of the world’s most dangerous terrorist regime or the world’s most dangerous terrorist organization,” Netanyahu said. “They’re both fired by the same hatred; they’re both driven by the same lust for violence."
Netanyahu also highlighted the need to establish clear “red lines” on Iran. He believes creating these limits would force Iran to back down in its efforts.
“I believe that faced with a clear red line, Iran will back down,” he said.
Netanyahu provided a cartoonish diagram of a bomb to accentuate this point. On the diagram he drew a red line across where he thinks Iran’s nuclear program would be beyond the point of no return – sometime in the spring or summer of 2013.
While most of Netanyahu’s speech was dedicated to highlighting Iran’s nuclear threat, it also struck a conciliatory tone with President Barack Obama’s position on Iran by praising his efforts on sanctions. Obama, meanwhile, has refused to set red lines for the Islamic Republic.
“Under the leadership of President Obama, the international community has passed some of the strongest sanctions to date,” Netanyahu said.
Nevertheless, Netanyahu believes diplomacy and sanctions can go only so far if clear red lines do not accompany them.
“Red lines don’t lead to war; red lines prevent war,” Netanyahu said.