Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech last week at the UN’s General Assembly will undoubtedly go down as a key moment in international affairs.
The leader of the Middle East’s only democracy literally drew a red line over Iran’s nuclear program, warning the world that time is running out on preventing the nation from developing an atomic bomb.
Netanyahu’s words weren’t just empty rhetoric — Israel’s leader has plenty at stake when it comes to a nuclear-armed Iran. Indeed, Iranian leader Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has on numerous occasions not only called for the destruction of Israel, but also denied the Holocaust — a hate-mongering affront to Jews. And just last month, the UN found that Iran moved more of its uranium enrichment activities into fortified bunkers deep underground where they will be unaffected by air attacks.
Already, the Jewish nation regularly faces threats from neighbouring regimes; the last thing it wants to deal with is a nuclear warhead pointed in its direction.
Despite the hyperbole, Netanyahu’s sense of urgency can’t be understated. His fears are legitimate and if military action will prevent an attack on his country, he won’t shy away from dropping the hammer. Still, no one wants to start another Middle East war, not Israel and not the U.S. As Netanyahu stated in his speech, “Red lines don’t lead to war, red lines prevent war.”
So with time ticking down to next summer, the point when Netanyahu said Iran will be 90 per cent of the way to uranium enrichment needed to make an atomic bomb, something drastic needs to happen.
Diplomacy seems to be going nowhere, but surprisingly, the four rounds of sanctions the UN has placed on Iran finally seems to be making a difference.
Due in big part to sanctions, the Iranian currency is taking a pounding, prices for everyday goods are rising, and the unemployment rate is in the stratosphere (some economists place it at more than 30 per cent).
Iran has a powerful working class and as much as it takes pride in its nation, economic isolation won’t take a back seat to a nuclear program. And if pressure and outcries are heard by the country’s powerful Ayatollahs, Iranians may be more effective in keeping Israel safe than Israel’s threats of air strikes on nuclear facilities.
The Arab Spring has largely left Iran untouched, but here’s hoping a protest movement will force the rogue nation to focus on its economy — and the well-being of its own citizens — more than growing its nuclear program.
We Say editorials represent the viewpoint of The Daily News and are written by publisher Tim Shoults, city editor Tracy Gilchrist, or associate news editors Dan Spark and Mark Rogers.