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Iraq/Iran is ‘feverishly working to develop atomic weapons’ — Netanyahu 2012 echoes Netanyahu 2002

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“Would I counsel, necessarily, a preemptive strike on Iran? I’m not sure. I would be very careful about that.”

– Benjamin Netanyahu, September 12, 2002

Journalist Jim Lobe has done a tremendous service to those of us who follow the warmongering propaganda of American and Israeli officials over the Iranian nuclear program.  This week, Lobe reminded us of the testimony then-former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu delivered before the House Committee on Government Reform and Oversight on September 12, 2002 in which he marshaled nearly every hackneyed talking point about weapons of mass destruction, support for terrorists and the benefits of regime change in an effort to push the United States to illegally invade and occupy Iraq.

Six months later, he got his wish.

While Lobe has already masterfully laid out the ignorant assumptions, egregious lies, hysterical hasbara, and shameful bellicosity of Netanyahu’s performance, it should also be noted that, when it comes to trying to bully the United States into setting “red lines” or even perhaps initiating a war of aggression, thereby  committing once again – in the words of the Nuremberg Tribunal - “the supreme international crime,” Netanyahu has stuck to the same script for a decade now.

Of course, as we all know, then it was Iraq and now it is Iran.  In his frenzied and frustrated warmongering efforts, Netanyahu has apparently forgotten to come up with some new zingers, instead hoping that what worked for him in 2002 would work again in 2012 (spoiler: it won’t).

Here are some of his greatest hits.

Benjamin Netanyahu, September 12, 2002:

“[I]t is simply not reflecting the reality to assume that Saddam isn’t feverishly working to develop nuclear weapons, as we speak.”

Benjamin Netanyahu, April 18, 2012:

“Today, the regime in Iran openly calls and determinedly works for our destruction. And it is feverishly working to develop atomic weapons to achieve that goal.”

Benjamin Netanyahu, September 12, 2002:

“How imminent is it [the threat from Iraq]? Look, do you want to wait and find out?  The answer is no.”

Benjamin Netanyahu, September 11, 2012

“The world tells Israel, ‘Wait, there’s still time,’ and I say, ‘Wait for what, wait until when?‘…The fact is that every day that passes, Iran gets closer and closer to nuclear bombs.”

Benjamin Netanyahu, September 12, 2002: 

“[Iraq] happens to be one of the two – now, as we know, one of the three – regimes that is racing to build nuclear weapons.”

Benjamin Netanyahu, September 16, 2012:

“And for me, the issue is, as the prime minister of a country that is threatened with annihilation by a brutal regime in Tehran that is racing to develop nuclear bombs for that and, obviously, we cannot delegate the job of stopping Iran if all else fails to someone else.”

Benjamin Netanyahu, September 12, 2002:

“Today the United States must destroy the same regime because a nuclear-armed Saddam will place the security of our entire world at risk.”

Benjamin Netanyahu, March 5, 2012:

“For fifteen years, I’ve been warning that a nuclear-armed Iran is a grave danger to my country and to the peace and security of the world.”

Benjamin Netanyahu, September 12, 2002:

“Every indication we have is that he [Saddam] is pursuing, pursuing with abandon, pursuing with every ounce of effort, the establishment of weapons of mass destruction, including nuclear weapons.”

Benjamin Netanyahu, September 16, 2012:

“Come on. We know that they’re working towards a weapon. We know that. It’s not something that we surmise. We have absolutely certainty about that. And they’re advancing towards that nuclear program.”

Benjamin Netanyahu, September 12, 2002:  

There is no question whatsoever that Saddam is seeking and is working and is advancing towards the development of nuclear weapons — no question whatsoever.”

During a March 7, 2012 interview on Fox News, Greta Van Susteren asked Netayahu about the case for illegally attacking Iran in light of what the world now knows about the lies that led to the invasion of Iraq.  ”Do you have any doubt they [Iran] have a nuclear weapons program?,” Van Susteren wondered.  The Israeli Prime Minister replied: “I think there is no question.”

Van Susteren continued, “[I]n 2003, with weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, there was so much certainty and it turned out, our intelligence was wrong on that. So I am trying to balance the two.”

The response from Netanyahu was immediate.  It was also confounding, considering his testimony to Congress ten years earlier.  He told Van Susteren:

“First of all, there is no question. There is no comparison. In the case of Iraq, I was on the Israeli cabinet when we discussed this issue. We didn’t know. We couldn’t say that they didn’t have a nuclear weapons program, we couldn’t say if they did. In the case of Iran there is absolutely no question.”

Over the past decade, Israel has made great strides in recycling.  In regurgitating his jingoistic talking points from a decade ago urging an illegal military assault on yet another Middle Eastern nation, there is no question Netanyahu is leading that charge.

This post first appeared on Nima Shirazi’s site, Wide Asleep in America.

About Nima Shirazi

Nima Shirazi is co-editor of the Iran, Iraq and Turkey pages for the online magazine Muftah. His political analysis can be found on his blog,, where this post first appeared. Follow him on Twitter @WideAsleepNima.

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21 Responses

  1. Amar
    September 23, 2012, 11:46 am

    It seems to go farther back than 2002:

    1992: Israeli parliamentarian Benjamin Netanyahu tells his colleagues that Iran is 3 to 5 years from being able to produce a nuclear weapon – and that the threat had to be “uprooted by an international front headed by the US.”

  2. blg432
    September 23, 2012, 11:48 am

    Netanyahu: Iran is real nuclear threat
    Jerusalem Post
    A SERIOUS threat of nuclear war hangs over Israel, Likud leader Binyamin Netanyahu told the Knesset plenum yesterday. Only a handful of MKs and no ministers were present to hear Netanyahu’s warning that Iran will be capable of nuclear war within five years.
    “Within three to five years, we can assume that Iran will become autonomous in its ability to develop and produce a nuclear bomb, without having to import either the technology or the material,” Netanyahu said. “[The nuclear threat] must be uprooted by an international front headed by the US. It necessitates economic sanctions on Iran.”

  3. Blake
    September 23, 2012, 1:32 pm

    You could actually go a decade further back:

    1992 Breaking News – Netanyahu Says Iran Close to Nuclear Weapon
    Does This Sound Familiar?

    By Michael Chester
    What many of us may not recall is that this drumbeat about Iran’s alleged nuclear weapons program began many years ago. Netanyahu is on record as early as 1992 claiming that Iran was “close” to having a nuke.

    Scott Peterson at the Christian Science Monitor did a useful timeline for dire Israeli and US predictions of an imminent Iranian nuclear weapon, beginning 20 years ago:

    1992: Israeli member of parliament Binyamin Netanyahu predicts that Iran was “3 to 5 years” from having a nuclear weapon.

    1992: Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres predicts an Iranian nuclear warhead by 1999 to French TV.

    1995: The New York Times quotes US and Israeli officials saying that Iran would have the bomb by 2000.

    1998: Donald Rumsfeld tells Congress that Iran could have an intercontinental ballistic missile that could hit the US by 2003.

  4. seafoid
    September 23, 2012, 3:52 pm

    Bibi is full of ****.

    The IDF needs wars but it seems to have lost the hasbara war.

    • Blake
      September 23, 2012, 5:25 pm

      seafoid pls explain why the link to idf?

      • seafoid
        September 24, 2012, 4:00 am

        I couldn’t believe how lame the IDF is now. They don’t seem to have a leg to stand on.

        ” Unfortunately, this case is one of many trying to delegitimize the IDF and Israel. These kind of photos constantly circulate online and are meant to demonize IDF soldiers. Of course, such behavior is completely at odds with the IDF Code of Conduct – but who reads the fine print, right?”

        WTF is the IDF code of conduct ?

        I had a look at and chose “images” and did a search for “IDF brutality”

        About 345,000 results (0.42 seconds)

      • Blake
        September 24, 2012, 6:50 am

        Thanks. I actually could not believe the comments on there that’s why I asked…I thought perhaps they had seen the light of day. Lol. Did the most immoral occupation force ever have a leg to stand on!

  5. justicewillprevail
    September 23, 2012, 4:12 pm

    What a buffoon, a serial liar, delusional fantasist and peddler of total hokum. And yet this is the idiot who members of congress judge more deserving of their loyalty than the American people. So what does that say about the quality of our elected representatives? Well i guess he is an idiot surrounded by manipulative con-men who have bags of money to buy up the senators. Surely any rational country would laugh this clown off the stage. He does not deserve to be taken seriously. The tragedy is that he is.

    • Blake
      September 23, 2012, 5:22 pm

      I doubt he even travels to Europe for fear of being arrested at the airport on arrival as a war criminal.

  6. radii
    September 23, 2012, 4:50 pm

    this cartoon I found on a Google image search years ago sums it up best

    the “War Party” as calls it uses the same script and has for a long time – this whole “clash of civilizations” and “they hate us for our freedom” and “war on terrorism” crap has been floating around a long time – Netanyahu is one of its most ardent hucksters

  7. Mayhem
    September 23, 2012, 7:16 pm

    Reading the myopic commentary here you get the impression that Netanyahu is the lone wolf howling out concerns about Iran building nuclear weapons.
    Read a sobering article here where Israel is not even mentioned in the analysis.
    The whole world knows what is going on and Netanyahu has consistently warned us about it.

    • Shingo
      September 24, 2012, 1:51 am

      eading the myopic commentary here you get the impression that Netanyahu is the lone wolf howling out concerns about Iran building nuclear weapons.

      That’s because he is, along with the neocon chickenhawk Likudniks. Your link doesn’t even suggest Iran is making nukes, only debating about the effectiveness of sanctions.

      The whole world knows what is going on and Netanyahu has consistently warned us about it.

      As he has done since 2002 about Iraq verbatim. That’s the point of the article dufus.

      • Mayhem
        September 24, 2012, 3:30 am

        @shingo, so neocon refusenik Likudniks have popped up across Europe, Britain, Canada, Japan etc. And pray tell what are the sanctions for anyway? Aren’t they an initial measure to restrain a trigger-happy Iranian leadership?

      • mikeo
        September 24, 2012, 5:01 am

        Mayhem, nobody gives a shit about Iran here in the uk. The empty vessel makes the most noise…

  8. Nebularis
    September 24, 2012, 6:35 pm

    the creation of nationalistic ideolgies – new religions, declaring not being a religion – in Europe was a dialectic evolutianary dead end. Therefore they are now marginalized in Europe. Neo-nationalism looks automatically stupid and anachronistic.
    The creation of Zionism was not only a similiar dead end, but also a profound mistake of not very intelligent, maybe also bad journalists, seeking for an alternative job to get money from the rich :-)
    It is a big mistake of intelligence, because the other nationalisms presented themselves as alternatives to the former religiously defined christian society. They were and are able to exist without any religion, because they legitimised themselves on the psseudo-scientific ideas of racism. Who believes in the religion of racism, can also today become a fervent nationalist.
    Zionism was not able to do that, instead it is sitting on the shoulders and head of an old religion and eating its brain and drinking its blood. It is not surviveable without the jewish religion. So it is working more like a dominant sect of Judaism, which tries to destroy and replace the original belief. Similar to the former Christianity.
    It does not only try to destroy and replace Judaism as a religous community, but it needs to destroy also the heritage of Palestine and the Palestinians, the core heirs of alls former societies on this land, because their mere existence is a mirror showing the ugly, lying face of Zionism.
    What we experience now shows us, that the last particle of human intelligence has left this ideology. Only pychopats and neofascists like Lieberman, and Netanjahu can represent Zionism. The territorial and economic ambitions of the colonial entity cannot be gained. Its economy is based on lies, wars, fraud and theft.
    In USA there is a president, who tries to softly cut the chains, put on the neck of the nation by the so called “Israel-Lobby”. Softyl or abruptly this connection, this subjugation of a nation of 300 Million under a 5 Million colonial entity on a generally useless spot of land has to end.
    The wars, the exjudicial killings, the finance of a pirate entity by US-taxpayers has to find an end.
    The destroying of the nature of Palaestine, the dryin out of land, the sinking of Dead-Sea has to end.
    The starvation of Palestinian children, the beating of old mothers, the abuse on all Palestinians has to end.
    It has to end WITHOUT another war, because this monster is nourished by making wars.
    Even if the founders of Zionism made a big mistake by inventing it, I don’t think that their “dream” was this murderous entity. They had a naive dream of a “normal”, peace loving and practicing state, because they and all the people of Europe named as “jews”, even not being religious, yearned to be NORMAL, like the others, like the good ones.
    I hope that the zionists will not dare to kill the president of USA, like written by Andrew Adler of “Atlanta Jewish Times”. If they success to do that, then the next real leader of USA could be a non-soft guy. A leader who will not send money and stupid members of the Congress on brainwashing vacations, but bombs and the army of USA. There is a hot cooking volcano under the “perfect” cover put onto the society by the zionist cabal, which can explode any moment. The people of USA will not only peacefully “OCCUPY WALLSTREET” after such an action.
    Now we are at the end of the story and my hope is, the people of zionist Utopia will wake up, look over the wall and see the misery put on their Palestinian neighbours, join them and found a one state Palestine, where everybody loving this ugly spot of land can live and strive in peace.

  9. thetumta
    September 26, 2012, 8:28 pm

    Don’t think so, Nebularis. You need to start worrying about your own American interests. That starts with leaving the Ganga behind and getting spell-check. I woke up decades ago when a couple hundred of my American fellows died in the Sinai for the Zionist Project. They are long forgotten as you will be soon be. Erased out of the Revisionist verzion of history.

  10. thankgodimatheist
    September 27, 2012, 7:22 am

    “a generally useless spot of land”
    ” this ugly spot of land”


  11. eljay
    September 27, 2012, 8:16 am

    Van Susteren continued, “[I]n 2003, with weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, there was so much certainty and it turned out, our intelligence was wrong on that. So I am trying to balance the two.”

    The response from Netanyahu was immediate. It was also confounding, considering his testimony to Congress ten years earlier. He told Van Susteren:

    “First of all, there is no question. There is no comparison. In the case of Iraq, I was on the Israeli cabinet when we discussed this issue. We didn’t know. We couldn’t say that they didn’t have a nuclear weapons program, we couldn’t say if they did. In the case of Iran there is absolutely no question.”

    It’s a real shame reporters / interviewers don’t put these politicians on the spot and call them on their outright lies. Make the bastards sweat, dammit!

  12. wes
    September 30, 2012, 7:23 am

    Before we get to Bibi’s speech, there are a couple lesser known things about it:

    Kikar is reporting that right before the speech at the UN, he recited chapters of Tehilim to pray for its success. Let’s just call it modernity with tradition.
    I was forwarded the following email which I am posting here with permission. It originated from Beryl Eckstein, who attended Yom Kippur Tefila at the חובבי ציון (also known as הצבי ישראל) shul in Yerushalayim’s Talbiya neighborhood. The name of the rabbi who gave the speech is Rabbi Bronstein. Beryl sent this email out before Netanyahu’s speech was given. Only edited for formatting.

    Shavua Tov,

    Bibi and Peres were in shul for Kol Nidrei which in itself was quite cool.
    It is pretty neat to be standing 5 feet from the two of them and I felt much
    of the awe that chasidiim feel before their Rebbi (not sure either Bibi or
    Peres would appreciate the comparison) This year the Rabbi spoke about a
    Yalkut Shimoni from Yeshayahu. I will quote him because it is so powerful;

    נתייצב כולנו כשלנגד עינינו מאמרו של רבי יצחק מלפני 1500 שנה, המובע בילקוט
    שמעוני וישעיהו פרק ס רמז תצט:

    ״ אמר רבי יצחק: שנה שמלך המשיח נגלה בו, כל מלכי אומות העולם מתגרים זה בזה,
    מלך פרס מתגרה במלך ערבי, והולך מלך ערבי לארם ליטול עצה מהם, וחוזר מלך פרס
    ומרחיב את העולם, וכל אומות העולם מתרעשים ומתבהלים ונופלים על פניהם ויאחוז
    אותם צירים כצירי יולדה. וישראל מתרעשים ומתבהלים ואומרים להיכן נבוא ונלך?
    להיכן נבוא ונלך?

    ואומר להם הקב״ה: בני, אל תתייראו! כל מה שעשיתי לא עשיתי אלא בשבילכם. מפני מה
    אתם מתייראים? הגיע זמן גאולתם!

    ולא כגאולה ראשונה גאולה אחרונה, כי גאולה ראשונה היה לכם צער ושעבוד מלכויות
    אחריה, אבל גאולה אחרונה אין לכם צער ושעבוד מלכויות אחריה״

    Bibi went over to the Rabbi and took the Rabbis speech and said he wanted to
    use it at the UN. I doubt he will quote it but you never know.

    Bibi is there every year but never speaks. This year he said he felt
    compelled after the Rabbi’s speech. He said he had 3 messages for us;

    1) he was going to the US to tell the truth. People now are not just trying
    to delegitimize (probably not a word) Israel but the Jewish religion. I hope
    he includes Abbas in this but doubt he will

    2) every nation that has risen up in history against the Jews is no longer
    in existence

    3) we shall not fear and we shall not give up hope.

    He said it beautifully and I am sure most will write this up better than I
    did, but I will remember Bibi studying the words of theילקוט and how amazing
    it was to see the leader of the Jewish nation sitting and living the words
    of Torah.

    SHavua Tov and chag sameach

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