Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations Ron Prosor addressed the UN Security Council’s Open Debate Tuesday on “The Situation in the Middle East,” warning that Iran is continuing its steady march towards developing nuclear weapons and that while Hassan Rouhani may be the new Iranian president, he is simply the new face of an old regime.
“With much of the Middle East in turmoil, the world is once again being called upon to defend liberty, democracy and human rights. History will look back and judge which nations stepped forward with conviction, conscience and courage,” Ambassador Prosor began.
The thrust of his speech was against Iran, which he said should still be sanctioned.
“Since his election, Rouhani has tried to reinforce the image that he is a quote-unquote moderate. He was published in an American newspaper, appeared on network television, and even started using social media. I have news for President Rouhani – embracing Twitter doesn’t make you a reformer, but embracing human rights certainly would.”
“The Iranian regime is notorious for violating women’s rights; targeting religious and ethnic minorities; and, denying fundamental freedoms to its citizens. Rouhani is like the Emperor with new clothes – cloaking himself as a moderate when Iranian radicalism remains clear to the naked eye.”
“Unlike his predecessor, whose hateful rhetoric about wiping Israel off the map made him easy to dismiss, the new Iranian president has a strategy code-named SLY (S-L-Y). Smile. Lie. Yield minor concessions.”
Specifically, with regard to Iranian nuclear weapons, the ambassador supported Israel’s international position.
“While Rouhani provides diplomatic cover, Iran is marching towards a bomb. Since the June election, Iran has installed thousands of new centrifuges and just last month, the new president declared that Iran will not give up ‘one iota’ of its nuclear rights. Make no mistake – the Iranian program is not for peaceful purposes. Seventeen different countries peacefully produce nuclear energy without uranium enrichment or plutonium production. And yet, Iran insists that their enrichment infrastructure and technology is their ‘right.’ It’s not their right, in fact it’s wrong. When negotiating with Iran, the international community must – as Prime Minister Netanyahu said – distrust, dismantle and verify.”
Comparing the threat of a nuclear Iran to the Nazi threat as articulated by Churchill on the eve of World War II, he said that rather than eased, sanctions against Iran should be increased.
It won’t just alter the balance of power in the Middle East – the repercussions will be felt in Europe, the United States and across the globe. The world has stood at this crossroads before. On the eve of World War II, Churchill warned of the impending danger when he said: “They should know that we have passed an awful milestone in our history, when the whole equilibrium of Europe has been deranged… This is only the beginning of the reckoning… [unless] we arise again and take our stand for freedom as in the olden time.”
The Iranian economy is crumbling under the weight of crippling sanctions. And this pressure is getting results. And yet some states have suggested easing the sanctions. This suggestion reminds me of a boxer who is clinging to the ropes in the final round. Give him a moment to rest and he will turn around and attack you with more vigor. We must keep up the pressure until Iran agrees to play by the rules. Let me be clear – any sort of partial deal will be completely ineffective in containing the Iranian threat. Any diplomatic resolution must ensure that Iran has no centrifuges, no enriched uranium, and no plutonium track. If Iran doesn’t agree, then the sanctions must not be eased; they should be increased.
Israel’s ambassador to the UN also addressed the current ongoing civil war in Syria, which he described as a great disappointment for all those who were fooled by the seemingly refined nature of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
“How many in this hall believed that when Bashar al-Assad became President, he would be the new hope for Western-Arab relations? After all, here was a young London-trained ophthalmologist, with a beautiful wife, who drank high tea and ate scones at the Ritz. Turns out the eye doctor, is just another spin doctor and his murderous rampage has Syria spinning out of control. We applaud the steps that have been taken by the international community so far, but the removal and destruction of Syria’s weapons must remain a priority.”
“To the Syrian people I say this – I know that our two nations have a long history of conflict and that we are separated by politics and religion. But we are eternally linked by our common humanity. We are horrified by the pain and suffering that you have endured. As we speak our hand is extended to your people. And we will continue to offer humanitarian assistance to all those who need it regardless of race, religion or gender.”
He concluded by speaking about the great changes ongoing in all of the Middle East, while calling for states to show “conviction, conscience, and courage” to help bring harmony to the region.
“A great convulsion is shaking the Middle East from the Straits of Hormuz to the Straits of Gibraltar. The tremors have shattered states and toppled governments – and the ground is still shifting. The region stands at a crossroads and it is not yet clear if freedom and moderation will triumph over tyranny and fundamentalism. Let this be the moment in history when all peoples seek understanding instead of accusations; when nations strive for harmony instead of dissonance; and when our family of nations shows the conviction, conscience, and courage to make peace possible.”