In attempt to curb flood of criticism against possible military strike against Tehran, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tells Meet the Press ‘Iran puts zealotry above survival’, explains why containment strategy won’t work
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu criticized certain American columnists saying that they “set a new standard for human stupidity” for writing that a nuclear Iran may “stabilize the Middle East”.
In interviews with CNN’s State of the Nation and NBC’s Meet the Press, both scheduled to be aired on Sunday, Netanyahu tried to rein in the flood of criticism expressed in American newspapers.
In a segment from the interview which was published Saturday night ahead of the NBC interview, the prime minister was asked whether he believed a “containment strategy” would work on Iran, as was done with the Soviet Union in its time.
Netanyahu responded: “I think Iran is very different, they put their zealotry above survival, they have suicide bombers all over the place, I wouldn’t rely on their rationality.”
According to Netanyahu: “Since the advent of nuclear weapons you’ve had countries that have had access to nuclear weapons who always made a careful calculation of cost and benefit but Iran is guided by a leadership with an unbelievable fanaticism.
“It’s the same fanaticism that you see storming your embassies today. You want these fanatics to have nuclear weapons?”
Netanyahu then responded to the slew of recent criticism expressed in US newspapers towards his plans for a military strike on Iran: “I heard some people suggest…I actually read this in the American press, they said ‘well you know if you take action that’s a lot worse than having Iran with nuclear weapons.’
“Some have even said that Iran with nuclear weapons would stabilize the Middle East. Stabilize the Middle East! I think that the people who say this set a new standard for human stupidity.”
On Friday Defense Secretary Leon Panetta dismissed this week’s public debate between US and Israeli leaders over whether the allies should set “red lines” that could trigger military action against Iran’s nuclear program.
“The fact is, look, presidents of the United States, prime ministers of Israel or any other country – leaders of these countries don’t have, you know, a bunch of little red lines that determine their decisions,” Paneta told Foreign Policy Magazine.
“What they have are facts that are presented to them about what a country is up to, and then they weigh what kind of action is needed to be taken in order to deal with that situation. I mean, that’s the real world.
“Red lines are kind of political arguments that are used to try to put people in a corner,” he added.
The New York Times reported on Friday that President Barack Obama has rejected an appeal by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to define a specific “red line” that Iran could not cross in its nuclear program.
Netanyahu reportedly asked Obama in a phone call earlier this week to set the size of Iran’s stockpile of close-to-bomb-grade uranium as the threshold that, if passed, would trigger a US military strike on the Islamic Republic’s nuclear facilities.
The report cited an unnamed senior US official as saying that the Obama administration’s “red line” is a nuclear weapon.