Iran and its leaders are a danger not only to Israel and the Middle East, but also to nations worldwide, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told a joint session of Congress on Tuesday, to thunderous applause, and called for global action over Iran’s nuclear program.
Condemning the burgeoning agreement between the major world powers and Iran over the latter’s nuclear aspirations, which Netanyahu had made clear would be the focus of the speech, he called the deal “bad.”
“This is a bad deal,” he said, “we’re better off without it.” The agreement “would not be a farewell to arms,” he added, “it would be a farewell to arms control.”
It is not true that the only alternative to this “bad deal” with Iran is war, he said, the real alternative is “a better deal.”
“If the deal now being negotiated is accepted by Iran, that deal will not prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons – it will all but guarantee that Iran will get those nuclear weapons – lots of them,” he said.
The agreement, he said, does not block Iran’s path to the bomb, it paves Iran’s path to the bomb.
“Iran’s regime poses a grave threat, not only to Israel but also to the peace of the entire world,” he said. “We must all stand together to stop Iran’s march of conquest, subjugation and terror.”
“Iran has proven time and again that it cannot be trusted,” no matter what it says about permitting verification of the terms of any accord designed to prevent it from getting such weapons, the prime minister said.
“The greatest danger facing our world is the marriage of militant Islam with nuclear weapons,” he warned.
The prime minister also accused Iranian supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei of anti-Semitism, saying he “spews the oldest hatest, with the newest technology.”
Netanyahu also warned that fighting the Islamic State group should not detract from efforts to stymie Iran’s nuclear aspirations.
“To defeat ISIS but let Iran get nuclear weapons would be to win the battle but lose the war,” he said.
The prime minister received the first of multiple standing ovations as he made his way to the podium for the address that has been boycotted by dozens of Democratic lawmakers and threatened to create a permanent crack in the long solid US-Israel ties.
“I know that my speech has been the subject of much controversy,” Netanyahu said in his opening remarks. “I regret that some people perceive my being here as political. That was never my intention.”
The prime minister paid tribute to US support for Israel, in particular its military assistance.
“Last summer, millions of Israelis were protected from thousands of Hamas rockets because this Capitol dome helped build our Iron Dome,” he said, to thunderous applause.
Niceties over, Netanyahu turned to the central issue of his speech, drawing a comparison between the antagonist of the upcoming Jewish holiday of Purim and the Iranian supreme leader.
“Today, the Jewish people face another attempt by yet another Persian potentate to destroy us,” he said.
FULL VIDEO: Starts at 1:04:35