(TheBlaze/AP) — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu took his case on Iran directly to U.S. voters Sunday, telling the American public in televised interviews that the White House must be willing to draw a “red line” on Tehran’s nuclear program, comparing Tehran’s nuclear program to Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh and reminding Americans of the devastating repercussions of failed intelligence.
His remarks were an impassioned election-season plea from a world leader who insists he doesn’t want to insert himself into U.S. politics and hasn’t endorsed either candidate. But visibly frustrated by U.S. policy under President Barack Obama, the hawkish Israeli leader took advantage of the week’s focus on unrest across the Muslim world and America’s time-honored tradition of the Sunday television talk shows to appeal to Americans headed to the polls in less than two months.
Tehran claims its nuclear program is peaceful, but Netanyahu said the U.S. would be foolish to believe such a claim, using football metaphors and citing examples of past terrorist attacks on U.S. soil to appeal to his American audience.
“It’s like Timothy McVeigh walking into a shop in Oklahoma City and saying, `I’d like to tend my garden. I’d like to buy some fertilizer.’ … Come on. We know that they’re working on a weapon,” Netanyahu said.
Here is video of the prime minister’s appearance on CNN:
Last week Netanyahu called on Obama and other world leaders to state clearly at what point Iran will face a military attack. But Obama and his top aides, who repeatedly say all options remain on the table, have apparently pointed to intelligence that suggests Iran hasn’t yet decided whether to build a bomb. They say there is still time for action, if it becomes necessary.
Netanyahu disagrees, estimating that Iran is about six months away from having most of the enriched uranium it needs, and warning that letting them reach the “goal line” will have disastrous consequences.
“You know, they’re in the last 20 yards, and you can’t let them cross that goal line,” Netanyahu said on NBC’s Meet the Press. “You can’t let them score a touchdown, because that would have unbelievable consequences, grievous consequences for the peace and security of us all, of the world really.”
Netanyahu added: “The world tells Israel: ‘Wait, there’s still time.’ And I say: ‘Wait for what? Wait until when?” Should we wait until Iran is actually a nuclear power before acting, he asks? Why would that be preferable?
Obama’s Republican opponent, Mitt Romney, has said he is willing to take a tougher stance than Obama against Iran, although his campaign has declined to provide specifics. He has also aligned himself personally with Netanyahu, casting the Israeli leader as a longtime friend.
Meanwhile, Obama is reported to have a strained relationship with Netanyahu, chastising Israel for continuing to build housing settlements in areas disputed with the Palestinians and allegedly turning down Netanyahu’s requests to meet.
America’s ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice responded Sunday by saying there is “no daylight” between the U.S. and Israel, insisting Obama “will do what it takes” to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon.
But, she added, “we are not at that stage yet.”
Rice also said that the massive riots throughout the Middle East were “spontaneous” and a “response to a hateful and offensive video.”
But Netanyahu cited historical examples known to most Americans to make his case: President John F. Kennedy’s demand that the Soviets remove its missiles sites in Cuba “maybe purchased decades of peace,” Netanyahu noted. And absent a similar “red line,” then-Iraqi President Saddam Hussein faced a U.S. attack in 1991 after invading Kuwait.
“Maybe that war could have been avoided,” Netanyahu said.
The prime minister also pointed to America’s inability to prevent the 9/11 hijackings as proof that intelligence can fail.
Netanyahu insisted that his motivations are not political, but rather reflected a key sense of urgency.
“What’s guiding my statements is not the American political calendar but the Iranian nuclear calendar,” he stated.
“All the things that you see now in these mobs storming the American Embassies is what you will see with a regime that would have atomic bombs,” Netanyahu said on CNN, reiterating: “You can’t [let] such people have atomic bombs.”
The Israeli leader summarized: “I think that there’s a common interest of all Americans, of all political persuasions, to stop Iran…This is a regime that is giving vent to the worst impulses that you see right now in the Middle East.”