North Korean nuke threat is ‘absurd and suicidal,’ says Menendez, even as he supports possible war against Iran

Earlier this week Senator Bob Menendez spoke at AIPAC and vowed to use military force to stop Iran from achieving nuclear capability.

when it comes to Iran’s drive to achieve nuclear weapons capability. We cannot, we must not, and we will not stand for a nuclear Iran. Period.

Then yesterday North Korea threatened to use nukes to turn Washington into a “sea of fire,” and Menendez dismissed the threat as “absurd and suicidal;” if North Korea attacks us, that’s the end of North Korea.

At yesterday’s news briefing at the State Department, the spokesperson Victoria Nuland all but dismissed the threat as bluster, and said they couldn’t hurt us if they wanted to.

How serious do you take the threats from Pyongyang?

MS. NULAND: Well, let’s just start by saying that this kind of bellicose rhetoric from the DPRK is not surprising. It’s not new. This regime has regularly missed the opportunity to improve its relationship with the outside world. Let me just take this opportunity to say that the United States is fully capable of defending against a DPRK ballistic missile attack. Furthermore, we are continuing to upgrade our ballistic missile defense capabilities. We remain firmly committed to the defense of the Republic of Korea and Japan and the maintenance of regional peace and security…

QUESTION: Just – when you say that it’s not surprising, does that mean you take it to be more bluster than actual warning of any imminent plans from North Korea of military action?

MS. NULAND: Well, obviously, one has to take what any government says seriously. It’s for that reason that I repeat here that we are fully capable of defending the United States. But I would also say that this kind of extreme rhetoric has not been unusual for this regime, unfortunately.

Let’s be clear: Menendez’s suicide argument and Victoria Nuland’s fully capable of defending argument are arguments for deterrence and containment. You never hear those arguments in the context of Iran’s alleged nuclear ambitions–no, there we have to use military force if Iran even approaches nuclear capability, presumably because Muslims are so irrational.

It’s a double standard that pertains to the special relationship the U.S. has with Israel. Ahmadinejad’s declaration that Israel will disappear from the pages of history was regarded as an existential threat to the Jewish state. Imagine if an Iranian leader said he’d turn Washington or Jerusalem into a “sea of fire.”

Here is Menendez speaking to AIPAC

Of course of course, the greatest threat to Israel’s security is Iran. It is clear to everyone in this room that there can never be any daylight between the United States and Israel. Not ever. But certainly not when it comes to Iran’s drive to achieve nuclear weapons capability. We cannot, we must not, and we will not stand for a nuclear Iran. Period.

Let’s put the Iranian threat to Israel and the region in perspective. Some people say this is all about Israel. I say it’s about the national interest and security of the United States as well. And Iran with nuclear weapons capability would be emboldened to take more aggressive actions against both Israel and the United States.

Yes, a Shahab 3 missile can hit Israel, but it can also hit a NATO ally. And under our NATO treaty agreement, we are obligated to respond on behalf of any NATO ally. It’s already unacceptable and deplorable support for terrorist groups like Hamas and Hezbollah would only increase. Its provocative behavior around one of the world’s most important strategic waterways, the Strait of Hormuz, could escalate. And a nuclear Iran could unleash an arms race in the world’s most dangerous tinderbox. Clearly, the threat to Israel’s existence would increase dramatically and the situation would become far, far more dangerous.

Once we put the extent of the nuclear threat in this context, it is easy to see why we need to be prepared to act. We need to be absolutely clear that it is the unequivocal policy of the United States to do everything in its power to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapon capability. And absolutely clear that we reject policy options designed simply to contain a nuclear-armed Iran. Containment is not an option for the United States.

Any policy built around the containment of a nuclear Iran is unacceptable. Our clear intention must be to prevent Iran from ever reaching nuclear capacity, I should say. One way to prevent that from happening is through the tough sanctions that I have authored and been passed by the Congress with your help and your advocacy. Sometimes I know you wonder whether your advocacy makes a difference. It does.

In fact, over the past year and a half I have authored three pieces of legislation that have imposed the toughest sanctions that Iran has ever faced, sanctions that are now strangling the Iranian economy and have had a real impact on the behavior of those companies and countries that were in bed with the regime. But we must do more to fully implement these sanctions and make absolutely clear to the Iranian government that unless they change their course, their situation will only get worse and economic struggles and economic international isolation will grow.

…we should not close the door to further discussions. And I’m hopeful that last week’s negotiations between the P5+1 entities and Iran will bring some future progress. But let’s be clear. We will not and cannot talk for talking’s sake. We cannot allow the negotiations to become just a stalling tactic for Iran to buy time. The P5+1 and the broader international community must unite around a simple message, two simple points: We will never accept a nuclear Iran and you cannot outwait us in that goal.

…Of course, sanctions are only a means to a clear end. In this case, Iran engaging in serious meaningful, fruitful negotiations that result in an end to its nuclear ambitions. Sanctions are our last peaceful diplomacy too. But we must also make clear, as President Obama has said, that all options are on the table. And I add that those options must be credible, which is why the Graham-Menendez resolution is so important at this time, standing behind Israel and its ability to protect itself and sending that message to the rest of the world.

 

About Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is Founder and Co-Editor of Mondoweiss.net.
Posted in Israel/Palestine

{ 31 comments... read them below or add one }

  1. Qualtrough says:

    This is one of those things you couldn’t make up. If you saw it in a movie you would say it was too ridiculous. A country with nuclear weapons, a certifiably crazy leadership, and likely possessing the ability to deliver said weapons to North America actually threatens to do so, and the powers that be are all, “Nothing to see here, move along.” At the same time, a country with no nuclear weapons, with no ability to deliver them to North America, and that has not threatened to do so, is being treated as if it is posed a mortal danger to world peace, and must be dealt with immediately by the US through war. All that at the prodding of a tiny, tiny, country thousands of miles away from the USA. Any Americans responsible for this sideshow distraction are in dereliction of their duty, and God help them if North Korea actually follows through in some way.

    • tokyobk says:

      America is hardly ignoring NK. (I say this as someone more likely to get nuked in Tokyo than people in LA.) Nothing that was said is waving the issue away and the US, South Korea and Japan are ready to pounce. The Chinese make the situation delicate.

      Keeping Iran from having the same power as NK is a fear of people of many interests including outside of the Israel lobby.

      • Shingo says:

        Keeping Iran from having the same power as NK is a fear of people of many interests including outside of the Israel lobby.

        Rubbish. It’s Israel, Israel, Israel.

        • tokyobk says:

          Israel and the State Department and Saudi Arabia and Turkey.

          Not wanting this Iranian regime to have a bomb is hardly Zionism, even if Israel is a main agent against it.

        • MK_Ultra says:

          Israel and the State Department and Saudi Arabia and Turkey.

          LOL. The true axis of evil perfectly framed. Thanks for that jewel. What comes after that is completely irrelevant and in line with the first one.

        • Shingo says:

          Israel and the State Department and Saudi Arabia and Turkey.

          Turkey is not at all concerned. In fact, along with Brazil, they wrangled a proposal for uranium swaps that Iran agreed to and the US rejected.

          Not wanting this Iranian regime to have a bomb is hardly Zionism, even if Israel is a main agent against it.

          Again, there is no evidence Iran wants one or is trying to acquire one. A usual, you are talking rubbish.

      • Qualtrough says:

        The difference between the two situations could not be greater. On the one hand you have North Korea making a nuclear threat and possibly having the means to deliver on it, and on the other you have Iran, which according to US security agencies does not even have a nuclear bomb program. And yet, by way of contrast, US authorities, while taking the NK issue seriously, are constantly downplaying the threat, while at the same time trying to scare us to death about the ‘threat’ posed by Iran.

        • tokyobk says:

          Again, as someone who has actually had a NK missile flown over the city I live in, the NK threat is downplayed mainly because it is so severe and so dangerous. Washington, Seoul and Tokyo don’t want to escalate a war of words into something else. As soon as there is an understanding with China, including ensuring that a collapse NK will not mean a million refugees over their border, the Kim regime is screwed.

          Iran will be treated with the same care once it has “the bomb,” which is exactly why it wants the weapon and why Israel and the US and other regional powers don’t want it to acquire such a weapon.

        • Shingo says:

          Again, as someone who has actually had a NK missile flown over the city I live in, the NK threat is downplayed mainly because it is so severe and so dangerous

          So by your own admission, the reason the Iran issue is hyped is because it doesn’t pose a threat.

          Iran will be treated with the same care once it has “the bomb,” which is exactly why it wants the weapon..

          Given that all 16 US intelligence agencies as the Mossad agree Iran has not even decided if it wants a nuke, what evidence do yh have the Iran wants a weapon?

          Oh that’s right, there isn’t any.

        • Nice convoluted argument. It will sell well with FOX and CNN and White House spokesperson when they run out of rhetoric. 1- “Iran will be treated with..”.- You mean it is not being !
          2- “NK threat is downplayed for it is so dangerous and so severe”
          You mean more than Israel is to its neighbors !
          Are you suggesting that Israel did not fly over the sky of its neighbors ?
          Are you saying that Israel did not say that it would take down the World meaning the Europe and US ?
          You have noticed correctly that Iran is not a serious threat but then you lose it it all by including yourself in the lying vortex of Israeli talking heads .You are also subscribing to the view that it is fair and dandy to keep on killing Iranian by cycle bombs,restricting medicine and food, forcing breakdown of infrastructures and maintainance of transport system,creating possibility of nuclear meltdown in case Iran becomes something like NK when Iran is saying “remove those impediments and there will be a deal “which almost came to a fruition in 2010and in 2003-6 .

          But then what shall one expect from Israel when its leaders praise the virtues and foresight of the editor of the recent “King Torah” bible prescribing the same view?

        • piotr says:

          If you are so worried about NK, give some islands to China, like Senkaku, Taiwan etc. (they have a long list, but apart from Taiwan they are very small) and then they will cheerfully “ensure the collapse of NK”. Short of that, I cannot see what would motivate Chinese government to do so.

          On the other hand, how to judge if this government or that is irrational? Can we cite any outlandish statements by our own politicians? Manifestly, we can. From that to “irrationality of government” is a long way.

      • MK_Ultra says:

        Nothing that was said is waving the issue away and the US, South Korea and Japan are ready to pounce. The Chinese make the situation delicate.

        Sure, it is. As someone more likely to get nuked in Tokyo than people in LA, you should point to who has threatened with invading North Korea. Then, go see how many of such threats you can find against Iran (I anticipate you will give up after one million). And, of course, as a person more likely to get nuked in Tokyo than people in LA, you also know that it’s because North Korea ALREADY has the nuke and Iran doesn’t, otherwise, the chicken little will refrain from such bellicose rhetoric in the same fashion that they do with North Korea. Also, I wouldn’t expect you to realize why it is that Iran needs the nuke for self-defense.

      • Yes.It is the Diaspora driven and Diaspora controlled regime of France,Germany,Canada,Australia,and UK who are worried of iranain nukes and at least from 2003 when the power of war was unleashed on ME by US.Prior to that these countries neglected Iranian issues and so did US to a large extent .
        Sometime one wonders if Israel was created for the safety of common Jewish folks or for the mafia/warmongers/plain thugs who can run away form scene of crimes and hide behind the sovereignty concept of a country

    • pabelmont says:

      Laying NK to one side, and as to Israel: A tiny, tiny country which possesses one of the holiest places of Islam (the Dome of the Rock — the Haram ash-Sharif) at its quasi-center ; who imagines that Iran, if ever actually armed with a nuke, would use it against Israel except (and then, only possibly) in retaliation for the same, what with Israel being widely regarded as armed with hundreds of nukes and thereby able to retaliate in spades? That would be madness! And Israel is the only state in the region which has shown signs of madness — or which has pretended to do so — in its over-the-top attacks on Lebanon and Gaza.

      OMG — maybe that’s the danger of Iran’s possible nuke — that Israel, being certifiably crazy or desperately anxious and willing to act as if it were, would start a war which would reasonably induce Iran to use that nuke against Israel. Holy cow! What a scarey thought! Of course the USA must do all in its power to prevent the rational Iran from gaining even one nuke! Of course! Now it is all clear!

  2. pabelmont says:

    Talking of war-making “bluster”, heard any talk from a tiny nuclear power in the M/E suggesting that an attack against Iran might be imminent? Oh, but not a “nuclear” attack, so its OK?

    Bluster. BTW, the UN charter seems to have hoped to outlaw the use or “threat” of force/war illegal and a thing of the past. How easily the world’s two charter-members of the “Club of Exceptional Nations” ignore this prohibition, threatening right and left.

  3. Kathleen says:

    Menendez been doing the I donkey in public for quite some time. N Korea “not suicidal” and Iran is. Menendez thinking and public speaking on the issue of Iran in direct contradiction to those who know far more and not beholden to the I donkey

    Chairman Of Joint Chiefs Of Staff Stands By Assessment That Iran Is A Rational Actor
    link to thinkprogress.org

    Who is the Doctor Menendez is beholden too?
    link to cbsnews.com

  4. Kathleen says:

    ot
    Diane Rehm is so hypocritical just constantly mentions the 70,000 Syrians dead, million Syrian refugees and this is absolutely horrific. But she and her team have never given that kind of attention to the hundreds of thousands of dead in Iraq, the injured the millions displaced. Yet for months she publicly cries crocodile tears over what is going on in Iran. And during another one hour show on Syria the other day she has three panelist (one of them Dennis Ross) who all have the same views on the Syrian situation. Talk about lack of diversity of opinion. Her team refuses to have the Leveretts, Prof Cole or Micheal Shceuer on . My question for her panelist this morning that the new screener from somewhere like AEI. did not make it through.

    “Please have your guest discuss what former Bush administration officials and middle east analyst Flynt and HIllary Mann Leverett, Professor Juan Cole and former head of the CIA’s Bin Laden unit Micheal Scheuer have all stated. That 50% of Syrians support Assad. That the Syrian Rebels are more than likely Al Qeada affiliates. That the US and others funding for these Syrian Rebels who know one really knows who they are actually has fueled the killing of Syrians and the refugee issue.

    And would the Rehm team please have the Leveretts, Scheuer and Professor Cole on so those who listen can hear some well informed views on these critical issue instead of those who agree on talking points “

    • ToivoS says:

      Don’t feed the propaganda machine. The Syrian War, as awful as it has been has not resulted in 70,000 deaths. Not 60,000 either. Maybe 20 or so is closer to the truth. The reason is that these numbers are from the Syrian rebels — they have been exaggerating from day 1.

      The reason these are dangerous numbers is that the next time the Israeli’s attack either Lebanon or Palestinians and kill a few thousand civilians they will have a ready made defense at hand — “The Syrians are worse”

      • Bandolero says:

        Unfortunately, there seem to be many more dead in the Syria war than 20k.

        For example “Syrian Documents” – which is hardly to be described as a “rebel” project and resides in the Syrian domain – so far documented 31141 victims since 1-11-2011.

        link to documents.sy

        So there is no question whether there are a lot of dead to complain in Syria.

        The main question is how and why all these people died – and still die.

        In my opinion, one of the most revealing articles on this topic was written by Efraim Halevy more than a year ago:

        link to nytimes.com

        Key quote:

        Iran is intent on assuring its hold over the country regardless of what happens to Mr. Assad — and Israel and the West must prevent this at all costs.

        At all cost … that’s what’s happening there in Syria in my opinion:

        link to telegraph.co.uk

        It’s – above all else – all about Israel and Iran. Remember Walt & Mearsheimer thesis that Iraq war was above all for Israel. My opinion: in Syria we see another war for Israel, just hidden behind a smokescreen which has a bit different form than the smokescreen for the war against Iraq.

        link to bloomberg.com

    • leenb says:

      I have a feeling Syria is the next Afghanistan.

  5. Chu says:

    -From the outside, one needs to accept that there is a way to handle everything domestic and foreign in the Congress (and the media).

    >But when Israel is the focus, or an issue that relates to Israel is the focus, the Congress (and the media) have a completely different subset of rules that modify the normal logic. It leaves the masses baffled.

    And I think they who do the handywork, realize that punishment and defeat are in store if they speak publicly against the massive hypocrisy of it all.

    It feels like a hot-air balloon floating above us that is covered in crap. We all know it’s there, and want to believe it is something to marvel at, but there is too much shit that it’s covered in to see any resemblance of what the essence was.

  6. HarryLaw says:

    Qualtrough, in his excellent comment above proves that the Iranian threat does not exist, regime change is what it is all about, funny thing is the regime the US would like to install would still not agree to stop its nuclear energy program, the Iranian public would not allow it, even if they did, the US would simply move the goalposts, the truth is with or without its peaceful nuclear program, Iran is growing in power and influence in the region, which is a potential challenge to the US’s little hegemon and that would not do.

  7. ● RE: “Earlier this week Senator Bob Menendez spoke at AIPAC and vowed to use military force to stop Iran from achieving nuclear capability.” ~ Weiss

    ● FROM MapLight.org:

    Pro-Israel contributions

    • Top Senate Recipients Funded

    Recipient | Amount
    Mark Kirk $945,679
    John McCain $772,327
    Benjamin Cardin $446,948
    Mitch McConnell $404,700
    Carl Levin $366,278
    Robert Menéndez $343,394
    Richard Durbin $325,112
    Kirsten Gillibrand $312,687
    Mary Landrieu $294,259
    Harry Reid $261,708
    Frank Lau . . .

    ● MARK TWAIN’S DISCOURSE ON “CORN PONE”:

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    SOURCE – link to english414fall2011.wordpress.com

    ● P.S. ANOTHER RELEVANT QUOTATION: “You can’t use tact with a Congressman! A Congressman is a hog! You must take a stick and hit him on the snout!” ~ From ‘The Education of Henry Adams’, By Henry Brooks Adams (American journalist, historian, academic and novelist, 1838-1918)
    The Education of Henry Adams by Henry Adams – link to gutenberg.org
    The Education of Henry Adams: An Autobiography (Google eBook) – link to books.google.com

    P.P.S. Henry Brooks Adams’ paternal grandfather was President John Quincy Adams, and his great grandfather was President John Adams.

  8. Avi_G. says:

    What was the deal with Menendez and prostitutes? Has anyone followed that story in the news lately?

    Do you suppose it’s another Elliot Spritzer?

    • What was the deal with Menendez and prostitutes?

      do tell, i am not upon this at all.

      • American says:

        The Menendez thing started with someone leaking his trips to the Dominican Republic and accusing him of using prostitutes and under age girls.
        Now it’s gotten bigger because Menendez’s friend (donor) whose private plane he flew on has been revealed to have ‘other interest” also with Menendez returing the favors thru his position in congress…the ‘friend, an eye doctor, Salomon Melgen, also had trouble with the Feds over medicare fraud and some kind of port contract that Menendez ‘intervened in’ to help him.

        link to csmonitor.com

        New York

        More trouble is looming for Sen. Robert Menendez (D) of New Jersey: According to an Associated Press investigation, the embattled New Jersey Democrat sponsored legislation that, if passed, would have aided one of his biggest donor’s investment in a natural gas vehicle conversion company.

        Dr. Salomon Melgen, a major political donor, poses for a photo at a book signing of ‘Growing American Roots,’ a book by Senator Menendez, at Miami Dade College on Jan. 31, in this image released by the college.

        The report, published Monday, stated that Senator Menendez sponsored a bill to give tax credits and grants to truck and heavy vehicle fleets that converted to natural gas. The bill could have benefited Salomon Melgen, the Florida eye doctor whose close relationship with Menendez has spurred a Senate ethics investigation. Dr. Melgen is an investor and member of the board of directors of Gaseous Fuel Systems Corp., which designs, manufactures, and sells products to convert diesel- and gas-fuel vehicles to natural gas.

        Menendez’s backing of the natural-gas bill marks another convergence of interest between the politician and a major donor and is a thorn for the senator. But political watchers in New Jersey say the bill sponsorship is one part of a larger clean-energy agenda from the senator, who has a history of supporting environmental causes. As such, it is unlikely this latest allegation represents a conflict of interest, says Brigid Harrison, a political scientist at Montclair State University, who predicts that Menendez will survive the latest storm.

        “I’m still not convinced … that this kind of behavior reaches to the status where it becomes enormously problematic in voters’ minds,” says Professor Harrison. “I’m not seeing any illegality or conflict of interest here.”

        The bill-sponsorship revelation revives the larger issue of the senator’s relationship with Melgen, with recent reports suggesting that Menendez was providing political favors for Melgen in exchange for campaign support.

        Menendez used Melgen’s private jet for two personal trips to the Dominican Republic in 2010, flights that were not reimbursed until three years later, when news reports called the senator’s conduct into question.

        Menendez also intervened in a Medicare billing dispute between Melgen and federal authorities, as well as a port security contract, allegedly in order to protect the interests of his friend and donor, according to news reports. The allegations are compounded by a $700,000 donation Melgen made to Majority PAC, a “super political-action committee” created to elect Senate Democrats that ultimately made a $582,500 contribution to Menendez’s 2012 reelection campaign, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

        Menendez has vehemently denied all allegations of impropriety, including any allegations of conflict-of-interest stemming from this latest report. His office did not respond to calls regarding his sponsorship of the natural gas bill.

        According to the AP report, Menendez joined Senate majority leader Harry Reid (D) and Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch (R) as a key backer of the natural gas bill. Soon after, Melgen joined the board of directors of Gaseous Fuel Systems Corp., which makes technology to perform such conversions. Though his investment in the company is confidential under US Securities and Exchange Commission rules, the company required a minimum investment of $51,500, according to the AP.

        1 | 2Next

      • MK_Ultra says:

        A real shame too. If he had gone to Cuba, he could have done it all for free, discretely and under the sponsorship of the Castro clan. That’s quite the tangled web them characters got going amongst themselves.

  9. RE: “Earlier this week Senator Bob Menendez spoke at AIPAC and vowed to use military force to stop Iran from achieving nuclear capability.” ~ Weiss

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  10. Hostage says:

    “Earlier this week Senator Bob Menendez spoke at AIPAC and vowed to use military force to stop Iran from achieving nuclear capability.”

    Here are some parts of the Non-Proliferation Treaty that these people tend to overlook:

    Recalling that, in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations, States must refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any State, or in any other manner inconsistent with the Purposes of the United Nations, and that the establishment and maintenance of international peace and security are to be promoted with the least diversion for armaments of the world’s human and economic resources,

    Have agreed as follows:

    Article X
    1. Each Party shall in exercising its national sovereignty have the right to withdraw from the Treaty if it decides that extraordinary events, related to the subject matter of this Treaty, have jeopardized the supreme interests of its country. It shall give notice of such withdrawal to all other Parties to the Treaty and to the United Nations Security Council three months in advance. Such notice shall include a statement of the extraordinary events it regards as having jeopardized its supreme interests.

    link to un.org

    Iran has an unqualified legal right to unilaterally withdraw from the NPT and obtain nuclear weapons for its own deterrent defense, in the event that it is publicly threatened with the use of military force in violation of the UN Charter and the NPT, i.e.:

    “There is in neither customary nor conventional international law any comprehensive and universal prohibition of the threat or use of nuclear weapons as such;

    — Legality of the Threat or Use of Nuclear Weapons link to icj-cij.org

  11. MK_Ultra says:

    Another Cuban-American politician that lives up to his banana republic roots. You can take the boy out of Cuba but you can’t take Cuban banana republic politics out of him. The madness extends from Miami to New Jersey and back. Congratulations! I bet he received a Kosher jar of pickles as a gift from his colleague Ileana Ross-Letrina after that.

  12. piotr says:

    A quick search allows to see a photo of a woman who did not sleep with “senador Menendez” and she seems to have 21 years as claimed.

    OTOH Menendez apparently used entertainment worth nearly 60 grands (and perhaps some personal funds too) on three trips which were presumably short. Being a simple peasant, I have no idea what it can buy you. But at least no underage prostitutes serve in Congress (thats why we need the age limits!).