Netanyahu rightyfully weary of Iran nuclear weaponry

On March 3, the Prime Minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu, addressed a joint session of Congress on Iran’s nuclear program. The United States has been attempting to negotiate an end to Iran’s nuclear program for over a decade, and a deal has never been reached. The U.S. wants to ensure that Iran will not be able to develop nuclear weaponry, and Iran wants the removal of international sanctions that suspend its uranium enrichment program. To the fury of the Obama administration, Netanyahu delivered a strong message that expressed the major threat of nuclear Iran, revealed the downfalls of the current deal and presented an alternate solution.

Netanyahu is rightfully weary of Iran’s claim that its only goal is to develop civilian nuclear power, rather than nuclear weaponry. Even during negotiation talks, Iran continues to make steady progress toward the goal of nuclear weapons capability. In 2011, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) reported evidence that “Iran has carried out activities relevant to the development of a nuclear explosive device.” In November of 2013, the nonpartisan Institute for Science and International Security disclosed that Iran was testing advanced centrifuge models, in violation of an extended agreement. In that same year of December, the U.N. Security Council reported that Iran continued to purchase illicit materials for its reactor that gives Tehran a path to a plutonium-based bomb. Even more recently, in February of this year the IAEA noted that Iran is still refusing to answer questions about suspected work on nuclear weapon designs.

Alongside the advancement of Iran’s nuclear program is the ambition of the Iranian government to build up capabilities in the Middle East. Terror organizations backed by Iran are expanding influence outside of Iraq and taking control of collapsed regions. Included among the forces are Hezbollah in Lebanon, Shiite militias in Iraq and the Assad regime in Syria. Meanwhile, ISIS is committing genocide against Muslims, Christians and other religious minorities in Iraq and Syria. Although Iran and ISIS are enemies battling for Middle East domination, the conflict between Iran and ISIS does not suggest that Iran is a friend of America. As stated plainly by Netanyahu, “the enemy of our enemy is our enemy.”

Given this reality, Obama and his administration must understand that Iran is not our strategic partner. A bad deal will give Iran a path to nuclear weapons that threaten the existence of Israel and America. Netanyahu provides a clear and practical alternative. That is, to impose tougher restrictions on Iran’s nuclear program, until Iran “acts like a normal country” and stops its aggression, stops supporting global and state terrorism and stops calling for the destruction of Israel. It is not a difficult concept. If Iran changes these behaviors, the restrictions can be lifted. If Iran does not change these behaviors, the restrictions should not be lifted.

On a topic such as this, politics interfere and consequently, not all agree with Netanyahu’s views. Some critics claim that Netanyahu is exaggerating about the extent to which Iran is a threat. If this was true, then that means that western intelligence agencies must also be “exaggerating.” Top Iranian naval commander, Rear Admiral Ali Fadavi, must have also been "exaggerating" when he said that Iranian forces are prepared to “destroy the U.S. navy” to “ensure the defeat and humiliation of the Americans” during an interview in Iran's state-run media. Other critics argue that Israel itself is “not a normal country.” However, this criticism overshadows the threat of Iran by sparking an altogether unrelated conversation concerning the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Iran remains at the heart of radical Islam and is a stark contrast to Israel, the only fully functioning democracy in the Middle East that wishes to live peacefully among its neighbors. Frankly, this is one topic that should bring together both Arabs and Israelis. Iran is a threat to both groups.

All politics aside, Iran is a major threat to both the United States and Israel. Netanyahu did his job, and now we must do ours. We must understand what is at stake, demand more forceful action from Obama and maintain the strong relationship between Israel and the U.S. We must not let Netanyahu’s words fall to the ground unnoted.

Danielle Dossantos is a School of Environmental and Biological Sciences senior and president of Rutgers Christians United for Israel.

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