[Published 9 March 2015]
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu – addressing the American Congress - has made behaviour change by Iran an essential pre-requisite to the successful conclusion of negotiations between Iran and the P5+1 – France, Germany, United Kingdom, China, Russia and the United States.
Those negotiations - designed to curb Iran procuring a nuclear bomb - have a deadline expiring on March 24.
The threat Iran’s behaviour poses to peace and security in the Middle East and the world’s oil supply was starkly laid out by Netanyahu:
"Iran’s goons in Gaza, its lackeys in Lebanon, its revolutionary guards on the Golan Heights are clutching Israel with three tentacles of terror. Backed by Iran, Assad is slaughtering Syrians. Back[ed] by Iran, Shiite militias are rampaging through Iraq. Back[ed] by Iran, Houthis are seizing control of Yemen, threatening the strategic straits at the mouth of the Red Sea. Along with the Straits of Hormuz, that would give Iran a second choke-point on the world’s oil supply."
Iran’s past attacks on Americans did not escape Netanyahu’s notice:
"Iran took dozens of Americans hostage in Tehran, murdered hundreds of American soldiers, Marines, in Beirut, and was responsible for killing and maiming thousands of American service men and women in Iraq and Afghanistan".Netanyahu spelled out Iran’s ever-increasing quest for domination and influence outside its own national borders:
"In the Middle East, Iran now dominates four Arab capitals, Baghdad, Damascus, Beirut and Sanaa. And if Iran’s aggression is left unchecked, more will surely follow"Netanyahu warned against the P5+1 agreeing to any 10 year moratorium on Iran gaining a nuclear bomb - without imposing strict conditions requiring an end to such behaviour by Iran:
So, at a time when many hope that Iran will join the community of nations, Iran is busy gobbling up the nations.
"Iran could get to the bomb by keeping the deal. Because virtually all the restrictions on Iran’s nuclear program will automatically expire in about a decade.
Now, a decade may seem like a long time in political life, but it’s the blink of an eye in the life of a nation. It’s a blink of an eye in the life of our children.
We all have a responsibility to consider what will happen when Iran’s nuclear capabilities are virtually unrestricted and all the sanctions will have been lifted. Iran would then be free to build a huge nuclear capacity that could produce many, many nuclear bombs."
Netanyahu’s solution to preventing this catastrophe occurring requires Iran meeting three conditions in any concluded negotiations – each enthusiastically endorsed by a standing ovation from the Congress as Netanyahu declared:
"First, stop its aggression against its neighbors in the Middle East.
Second, stop supporting terrorism around the world.
And third, stop threatening to annihilate my country, Israel, the one and only Jewish state."
Behaviour change by Iran has thus been firmly put on the negotiating agenda – and overwhelmingly endorsed by the Congress – with Netanyahu warning:
"If the world powers are not prepared to insist that Iran change its behavior before a deal is signed, at the very least they should insist that Iran change its behavior before a deal expires. If Iran changes its behavior, the restrictions would be lifted.
If Iran doesn’t change its behavior, the restrictions should not be lifted.
If Iran wants to be treated like a normal country, let it act like a normal country"
Significantly Netanyahu stressed that these three conditions would represent:
"A better deal that Israel and its neighbors may not like, but with which we could live, literally".
The P5+1 must ensure that Iran abandons its belligerent behaviour – or terminate the negotiations.