Netanyahu: There’s ‘An American Commitment to Make Sure’ Iran Doesn’t Develop a Nuke

By Staff | June 22, 2009 | 12:20 AM EDT

( - Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said yesterday that “there’s an American commitment to make sure” that Iran does not develop a nuclear weapon. Netanyahu was speaking on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”
“I think stopping Iran from developing nuclear weapons capability is not merely an interest of Israel,” said Netanyahu. “As I think the current, recent events—the current events now demonstrate, this is something of deep interest for all people who want peace and seek peace throughout the world.”

“Meet the Press” host David Gregory followed up on this statement by asking Netanyahu, “If the international community proves unable to stop Iran, is it your view that Israel will have to?”

Netanyahu responded: “It’s my view that there’s an American commitment to make sure that that doesn’t happen, and I think I’d leave it at that.”

Earlier in the interview, Netanyahu explained why he did not believe Iran could be trusted with a nuclear weapon and why he believes the United States as well as Israel’s neighbors in the Middle East shared this view.

“It's been calling for the, the denial of the Holocaust,” said Netanyahu of the Iranian regime.  “It's threatening to wipe Israel off the map.  It's pursuing nuclear weapons.  To that effect it's sponsoring terror against us, but throughout the world.”

“To have such a regime acquire nuclear weapons is to risk the fact that they might give it to terrorists or give terrorists a nuclear umbrella,” said Netanyahu. “That is a departure in the security of the Middle East and the world, certainly in the security of my country, and so I wouldn't treat the subject so lightly.  Would a regime change be a game changer?  A policy change would be a game changer.”

Netanyahu said that before this week’s demonstrations in Iran following the disputed election there, President Obama had told him that despite this desire to engage with the Iranian regime the United States was leaving “all options” on the table for dealing with Iran.

“But I did speak to President Obama about the question of engagement before this happened, and he made it clear that engagement is not an end in itself, it's a means to an end,” said Netanyahu. “And the end has to be to prevent this regime from developing nuclear weapons capability, and he said he'd leave all options on the table.  And I'd say if it was right before these demonstrations, well, it's doubly right now.”

Netanyahu said he believes there is virtually unanimity of opinion in the Middle East and elsewhere that it would be a disaster for Iran to be allowed to develop a nuclear weapon.

“I can say that Israel shares with the United States and with many, many countries--let me tell you, David, I think we shared with just about all the governments in the Middle East--I've talked to many of the leading European heads of governments and many others,” said Netanyahu, “we all don't want to see this regime acquire nuclear weapons, this regime that supports terrorists and calls for the annihilation of Israel and for the domination of the Middle East and beyond.

"I think this would be something that would endanger the peace of the world, not just the--my own country's security and the stability of the Middle East," said Netanyahu. "It would spawn, for one thing, a nuclear arms race in the Middle East.  Everybody understands that.  So the Middle East could become a nuclear tinderbox.”