March 07, 2012
...VAN SUSTEREN: Last night, I listened very carefully to your speech, very carefully. And in fact, I have a transcript of it in front of me. And it says that the international community's tried diplomacy, that hasn't worked, that the community has applied sanctions, that hasn't worked, either, that there are efforts to impose tougher sanctions, but Iran's nuclear program continues in spite of that.
You said Iran's goal is to develop nuclear weapons, and as prime minister, you will never gamble with the security of Israel. It sounds like war is inevitable.
NETANYAHU: Oh, I don't think so. I mean, we've seen, in fact, that Iran backed off from its nuclear program, its nuclear weapons program, really only once in the 15, 16 years that I've been warning the world about the dangers of a nuclear-armed Iran. And the only time they backed away was in 2003, when they thought there'd be a credible military threat against them.
So in fact, the paradox is that if they actually believe that they're going to face the military option, you probably won't need the military option.
VAN SUSTEREN: And I guess that's why -- I suppose that Secretary of Defense Panetta's statements that military options are on the table and President Obama's statement, as well, is helpful to discourage Iran.
NETANYAHU: I think these are important statements. I think that the idea that containment vis-a-vis a nuclear Iran is not an option are important statements. Just remember what it means. You try to contain a regime that is fostering terror worldwide, that could use nuclear terror here at any city, any port. That's a very dubious proposition.
So I think all these things are important, as was the president's statement of something that is very true about the ethos of what Israel is all about, that Israel, as a sovereign country, must have the ability to defend itself by itself against any threat. And as a sovereign country, we have the right to decide to act in our own defense.
...NETANYAHU: So far it hasn't. You know, I think that the only way that very strong sanctions would work if they were coupled with a clear military option that the Iranians believed would be applied to. That's the acid test. They believe that there is a credible military option if they actually froze the enrichment and stopped the program. That's the sure-fire test. We had that once in 2003, but we haven't had it since.