TRANSCRIPT: Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu’s Speech To Congress

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks before a joint meeting of Congress on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, March 3, 2015. Netanyahu is using the address to warn against trusting Iran to curb its nucl... Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks before a joint meeting of Congress on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, March 3, 2015. Netanyahu is using the address to warn against trusting Iran to curb its nuclear ambitions. House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio, left, and Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, listen. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik) MORE LESS
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On Tuesday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu delivered an address to the United States Congress.

Below is a rush transcript:

NETANYAHU: Speaker of the House John Boehner, Senator Orrin Hatch, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, I also want to acknowledge Senator Democratic leader Harry Reid. Harry, it’s good to see you back on your feet.

[ Applause ]

I guess it’s true what they say, you can’t keep a good man down. My friends, I’m deeply humbled by the opportunity to speak for a third time before the most important legislative body in the world, the U.S. Congress.

[ Applause ]

I want to thank you all for being here today. I know that my speech has been the subject of much controversy. I deeply regret that some perceive my being here as political. That was never my intention. I want to thank you, Democrats and Republicans, for your common support for Israel year after year, decade after decade.

[ Applause ]

I know no matter which side of the aisle you sit, you stand with Israel.

[ Applause ]

The remarkable alliance between Israel and the United States has always been above politics. It must always remain above politics. [ Applause ] Because America and Israel, we share a common destiny. A destiny of promised lands that cherish freedom and offer hope. Israel is grateful for the support of America’s people and of America’s presidents from Harry Truman to Barack Obama.

[ Applause ]

We appreciate all that President Obama has done for Israel. Some of that is widely known.

[ Applause ]

Some of that is widely known like strengthening security cooperation and intelligence sharing, opposing anti-Israel resolutions at the U.N. Some of what the president has done for Israel is less well known. I called him in 2010 when we had the forest fire and he immediately agreed to respond to my request for urgent aid. In 2011, we had our embassy in Cairo under siege and again he provided vital assistance at the crucial moment. His support for missile interceptors during our operation last summer when we took on Hamas terrorists.

[ Applause ]

In each of those moments he was there. Some of what the president has done for Israel may never be known because it touches on some of the most sensitive and strategic issues that arise between an American president and an Israeli prime minister. I know it and I’ll always be grateful to president Obama for that support.

[ Applause ]

Israel is grateful to you, the American Congress, for your support. For supporting us in so many ways especially in generous military assistance and missile defense including Iron Dome.

[ Applause ]

They were protected from thousands of Hamas rockets because this capitol dome helped build our iron dome. Thank you, America. Thank you for everything you’ve done for Israel. My friends, I have come here today because as prime minister of Israel, I feel a profound obligation to speak to you about an issue that could well threaten the survival of my country and the future of my people. Iran’s quest for nuclear weapons.

We’re an ancient people. In our nearly 4,000 years of history, many have tried repeatedly to destroy the Jewish people. Tomorrow night on the jewish holiday, we’ll read the book of Esther and read of Haman who plotted to destroy the Jewish people some 2,500 years ago. A courageous Jewish woman, queen Esther, exposed the plot and gave for the Jewish people the right to defend themselves against their enemies. The plot was foiled. Our people were saved.

[ Applause ]

Today the Jewish people face another attempt by yet another Persian to destroy us. Iran’s supreme leader spews the oldest hatred, the oldest hatred of anti-Semitism with the newest technology. He Tweets that Israel must be annihilated. Tweets. In Iran there isn’t exactly free internet but he tweets in English that Israel must be destroyed. For those who believe that Iran threatens a Jewish state but not the Jewish people, listen to the leader of Hezbollah, Iran’s chief terrorist proxy.

He said, “If all the Jews gather in Israel, it will save us the trouble of chasing them down around the world.” But Iran’s regime is not just a Jewish problem anymore than the Nazi regime was a Jewish problem. The 6 million Jews killed were a fraction of the people killed in World War II. Iran’s regime pose as great threat to Israel but to the peace of the entire world. To understand just how dangerous Iran would be with nuclear weapons, we must fully understand the nature of the regime.

The people of Iran are very talented people. They are heirs to one of the world’s great civilizations. In 1979, they were hijacked by religious zealots. That year zealots drafted a constitution. A new one for Iran. It directed the revolutionary guards to not only protect Iran’s borders but also to fulfill the ideological mission of jihad. The regime’s founder exhorted his followers to export the revolution throughout the world.

I’m standing here in Washington, D.C. And the difference is so stark. America’s founding document promises life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Iran’s founding document promise the pursuit of jihad and states are collapsing across the middle east. Iran is charging into the void to do just that. Iran’s goons in Gaza, lackeys in Lebanon are clutching Israel with three tentacles of terror.

Backed by Iran, Assad is slaughtering Syrians. Backed by Iran, Shiite militias are rampaging through Iraq and backed by Iran, Houthis are threatening the mouth of the red sea. It would give a chokehold of the world oil supply. Iran carried out a military exercise last week, blowing up a U.S. Aircraft carrier. That’s just last week. While they’re having nuclear talks with the United States. For the past 36 years, Iran’s attacks against the United States have been anything but mock.

The targets have been all too real. 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 servicemen and women in Iraq and Afghanistan. Beyond the Middle East, Iran attacks America and its allies through its global terror network. It blew up the Jewish community center and the Israeli embassy. It helped Al Qaeda bomb U.S. embassies in Africa. It even attempted to assassinate the Saudi ambassador here in Washington D.C. In the Middle East, Iran now dominates four Arab capitals.

If Iran’s aggression is left unchecked, more will surely follow. At a time when many hope that Iran will join the community of nations, Iran is busy gobbling up the nations.

[ Applause ]

We must stand together to stop Iran’s March of terror.

[ Applause ]

Two years ago we were told to give the foreign minister a chance to bring change and moderation to Iran. Some change. Some moderation. The government persecutes Christians, jails journalists, and executes even more prisoners than before.

Last year a wreath was laid at the grave of a terrorist mastermind who spilled more American blood than any other terrorist besides Osama bin Laden. I would like to see someone ask him a question about that. Iran’s regime is as radical as ever. Death to America, the same America it calls the great. This shouldn’t be surprising.

The ideology of Iran’s revolutionary regime is deeply rooted in militant Islam. That’s why this regime will always be an enemy of America. Don’t be fooled. The battle between Iran and ISIS doesn’t turn Iran into a friend of America. Iran and ISIS are competing for the crown of militant Islam. One calls itself Islamic Republic.

The other calls itself the Islamic state. Both want to impose militant Islamic empire first on the region and then on the entire world. They just disagree among themselves who will be the ruler of that empire. In this deadly game of thrones, there’s no place for America or Israel, no place for Christians, Jews or Muslims that don’t share the creed. No rights for women. No freedom for anyone.

So when it comes to Iran and ISIS, the enemy of your enemy is your enemy. [ Applause ] The difference is ISIS is armed with butcher knives, captured weapons and YouTube. Iran could soon be armed with intercontinental ballistic missiles and nuclear bombs.

We must always remember — I’ll say it one more time. The greatest danger facing our world is the marriage of militant Islam with nuclear weapons. To defeat ISIS and let Iran get nuclear weapons would be to win the battle but lose the war. We can’t let that happen.

[ Applause ]

That my friends is exactly what could happen if the deal now being negotiated is accepted by Iran. That deal will not prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons. It would all but guarantee that Iran gets those weapons, lots of them. Let me explain why. While the final deal has not yet been signed, certain elements of any potential deal are a matter of public record.

You don’t need intelligence agencies and secret information to know this. You can Google it. Absent a dramatic change, we know for sure any deal with Iran would include two major concessions to Iran. The first major concession would leave Iran with a vast nuclear infrastructure providing it with a short breakout time.

Breakout time is the time it takes to mass enough plutonium for a nuclear bomb. According to the deal, not a single nuclear facility would be demolished. Thousands of centrifuges used to enrich uranium would be left spinning.

Thousands more would be temporarily disconnected but not destroyed. Because Iran’s nuclear program would be left largely intact, Iran’s breakout time would be very short. About a year by U.S. assessment. Even shorter by Israel’s. If Iran’s work on advanced centrifuges, faster and faster centrifuges, that breakout time could be a lot shorter.

True, certain restrictions would be imposed on Iran’s nuclear program and Iran’s adherence to those restrictions would be supervised by international inspectors. Here’s the problem. Inspectors document violations. They don’t stop them. North Korea turned off cameras and kicked out inspectors and within a few years, it got the bomb. Now we’re warned that within five years North Korea could have an arsenal of 100 nuclear bombs. Like North Korea, Iran, too, has defied international inspectors. It has done that on three separate occasions. 2005, 2006, 2010.

Like North Korea, Iran broke the locks, shut off the cameras. I know this is not going to come as a shock to any of you. Iran not only defies inspectors, it also plays a pretty good game of hide and cheat with them. The U.N.’s nuclear watchdog agency said again yesterday that Iran still refuses to come clean about its military nuclear program. Iran was caught twice operating nuclear facilities, facilities that inspectors didn’t even know existed. Iran could be hiding facilities we know nothing about.

As a former head of inspections said in 2013, he said if there’s no undeclared installation today in Iran, it will be the first time in 20 years that it doesn’t have one. Iran has proven time and again that it cannot be trusted. That’s why the first major concession is a source of grave concern. It leaves Iran with a vast nuclear infrastructure and relies on inspectors to prevent a breakup.

That concession creates a real danger that Iran could get to the bomb by violating the deal. The second major concession creates a greater danger that 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 the political life. It’s the blink of an eye in the life of a nation. It’s the 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 unrestricted and all sanctions would have been lifted. Iran would be free to build a huge nuclear capacity that could produce many, many nuclear bombs. Iran’s supreme leader says that openly.

He says Iran plans to have 190,000 centrifuges. Not 6,000. Or even the 19,000 that Iran has today but ten times that amount. 190,000 centrifuges enriching uranium. Iran could make the fuel for an entire nuclear arsenal in a matter of weeks once it makes that decision.

My longtime friend, John Kerry, secretary of state, confirmed last week that Iran could legitimately possess that massive centrifuge capacity when the deal expires. I want you to think about that. The foremost sponsor of global terrorism could be weeks away from having enough enriched uranium for an entire arsenal of nuclear weapons and this with full international legitimacy.

By the way, if Iran’s intercontinental ballistic missile program is not part of the deal and so far Iran refuses to even put it on the negotiating table, Iran could have means to deliver that nuclear arsenal to the far reach corners of the Earth including to every part of the United States.

So you see, my friends, this deal has two major concessions. One, leaving Iran with a vast nuclear program. Two, lifting the restrictions on that program in about a decade. That’s why this deal is so bad. It doesn’t block Iran’s path to the bomb. It paves Iran’s path to the bomb. So why would anyone make this deal? Because they hope that Iran will change for the better in the coming years? Or they believe that the alternative to this deal is worse. I disagree. I don’t believe that Iran’s radical regime will change for the better after this deal.

This regime has been in power for 36 years. It’s voracious appetite for aggression grows with each passing year. This deal would only wet Iran’s appetite for more. Would Iran be less aggressive when sanctions are removed and its economy is stronger? If Iran is gobbling up four countries right now while it’s under sanctions, how many more countries will Iran devour when sanctions are lifted?

Will Iran fund less terrorism when it has mountains of cash with which to fund more terrorism? Why should Iran’s radical regime change for the better when it can enjoy the best of both worlds, aggression abroad, prosperity at home.

This is a question that everyone asks in our region. Israel’s neighbors, Iran’s neighbors, know that Iran will become even more aggressive and sponsor even more terrorism when its economies is unshackled and it’s been given a clear path to the bomb. And many of these neighbors say they’ll respond by racing to get nuclear weapons of their own so this deal won’t change Iran for the better. It will only change the middle east for the worst. A deal that is supposed to prevent nuclear proliferation would instead spark nuclear arms race in the most dangerous part of the planet.

This deal won’t be a farewell to arms. It would be a farewell to arms control. The Middle East would soon be crisscrossed by nuclear trip wires. A region where small skirmishes trigger big wars would turn into a nuclear tinderbox. If anyone thinks this deal kicks the can down the road, think again. When we get down that road, we’ll face a much more dangerous Iran. A Middle East littered with nuclear bombs and a countdown to a potential nuclear nightmare.

Ladies and gentlemen, I’ve come here today to tell you we don’t have to bet the security of the world on the hope that Iran will change for the better. We don’t have to gamble with our future and with our children’s future. We can insist that restrictions on Iran’s nuclear program not be lifted for as long as Iran continues its aggression in the region and in the world.

[ Applause ]

Before lifting these restrictions, the world should demand that Iran do three things. First, stop its aggression against its neighbors in the middle east. Second — [ applause ] Second, stop supporting terrorism around the world.

[ Applause ]

And third, stop threatening to annihilate my country, Israel, the one and only Jewish state.

[ Applause ]

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.

[ Applause ]

If Iran changes its behavior, 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.

[ Applause ]

My friends, what about the argument that there’s no alternative to this deal that Iran’s nuclear know-how cannot be erased. That its nuclear program is so advanced that the best we can do is delay the inevitable, which is essentially what the proposed deal seeks to do. Well, nuclear know-how without nuclear infrastructure doesn’t get you very much. A race car driver without a car can’t drive. A pilot without a plane can’t fly. Without thousands of centrifuges, tons of enriched uranium or heavy water facilities, Iran can’t make nuclear weapons.

[ Applause ]

Iran’s nuclear program can be rolled back well beyond the current proposal by insisting on a better deal and keeping up the pressure on a very vulnerable regime, especially given the recent collapse and price of oil.

If Iran threatens to walk away from the table and this often happens, call their bluff. They’ll be back. Because they need the deal a lot more than you do.

[ Applause ]

By maintaining pressure on Iran and those who do business with Iran, you have the power to make them needed even more. My friends, for over a year, we’ve been told that no deal is better than a bad deal. This is a bad deal. It’s a very bad deal. We’re better off without it.

[ Applause ]

Now we’re being told that the only alternative to this bad deal is war. That’s just not true. The alternative to this bad deal is a much better deal.

[ Applause ]

A better deal that doesn’t leave Iran with a vast nuclear infrastructure and such a short breakout time. A better deal that keeps the restrictions on Iran’s nuclear program in place until Iran’s aggression ends.

A better deal that won’t give Iran an easy path to the bomb. A better deal that Israel and its neighbors may not like but with which we could live literally. No country has a greater stake — no country has a greater stake than Israel in the good deal that peacefully removes this threat. Ladies and gentlemen, history placed us at a fateful crossroads. We must now choose between two paths.

One path leads to a bad deal that will at best curtail Iran’s nuclear ambitions for a while. It will lead to a nuclear armed Iran whose aggression will lead to war.

The second path, the second path however difficult could lead to a better deal that would prevent a nuclear armed Iran, a nuclearized Middle East and horrific consequences of both to all of humanity. You don’t have to read Robert Frost to know you have to live life, to know that the difficult path is usually the one less traveled. It will make all of the difference for the future of our country, security of the middle east and peace of the world, the peace we all desire.

[ Applause ]

My friends, standing up to Iran is not easy. Standing up to dark and murderous regimes. With us today is Holocaust survivor and Nobel prize winner.

[ Applause ]

Your life and work inspires to give meaning to the words never again.

[ Applause ]

I wish I could promise you that the lessons of history have been learned. I can only urge the leaders of the world not to repeat the mistakes of the past. Not to sacrifice the future for the present. Not to ignore aggression in the hopes of gaining a losing piece. I can guarantee you this, the days when Jewish people remain passive in the face of genocidal enemies, those days are over.

[ Applause ]

We are no longer scattered among the nations powerless to defend ourselves. We restored our sovereignty in our ancient home and soldiers who defend our home have boundless courage. For the first time in 100 generations, we, the jewish people, can defend ourselves. [ Applause ] This is why as prime minister of Israel I can promise you one more thing. Even if Israel has to stand alone, Israel will stand.

[ Applause ]

I know that Israel does not stand alone. I know that America stands with Israel. I know that you stand with Israel. [ Applause ] You stand with Israel because you know that the story of Israel is not only the story of the jewish people but of the human spirit that refuses again and again to succumb to history. Facing me right up there in the gallery overlooking all of us in this chamber is the image of Moses. Moses led our people from slavery to the gates of the promised land. I leave you with his message today. [ Speaking foreign language ] Be strong and resolute, neither fear nor dread them.

My friends, may Israel and America always stand together strong and resolute. May we neither fear nor dread the challenges ahead. May we face the future with confidence, strength and hope. May god bless the state of Israel and may god bless the United States of America.

[ Cheers and applause ]

Thank you. Thank you very much. Thank you all. You’re wonderful. Thank you, America. Thank you.

Thank you. [ Cheers and applause ]

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