Netanyahu Warns of 'Catastrophic Pivot' on Iran's Nukes

At Jewish Media Summit Netanyahu warns of greatest challenge to world; Peres praises 'courageous' Abbas, 'best' Pope Francis.

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Yoni Kempinski, Ari Yashar,

Binyamin Netanyahu
Binyamin Netanyahu
Flash 90

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu sounded the warning bell about a nuclear-armed Iran on Sunday, while speaking at the first Jewish Media Summit in Jerusalem.

The greatest historical challenge today, said Netanyahu, "is that a militant Islamic regime does not get its hands on weapons of mass destruction."

The prime minister called this the "number one imperative of our times," and a challenge that, if the world fails to meet it, "will be a pivot in history, and a catastrophic one."

Netanyahu cited the precedent of Syrian President Bashar Assad's regime having its chemical weapons stockpile and the means to produce such weapons "removed" physically from Syria, as a paradigm to compare with Iran, which is now ahead of a July 20 deadline to reach a permanent agreement with world powers about its nuclear program.

"That is not the deal that is now - I fear - being negotiated with Iran. Rather than dismantle and remove, what is being discussed with Iran is to keep and inspect," stated Netanyahu.

In addition to its nuclear program, Netanyahu pointed out that Iran is developing Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles (ICBMs), weapons that aren't needed to reach Israel and therefore are intended to threaten the world, and which have "one purpose," to carry a nuclear payload.

Many have highlighted the danger of the nuclear negotiations, arguing that with its 19,000 centrifuges, Iran can maintain a sudden breakout capability of six to seven weeks in the event of a bad nuclear deal, meaning that it can quickly achieve nuclear weapons if not totally stripped of enrichment capability.

Progress has been mixed in the negotiations, with a senior US official saying last Friday that it is unclear whether Iran is ready to take the steps necessary to assure the world its nuclear ambitions are entirely peaceful, and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif urging the West to "abandon excessive demands which will not be accepted by Iran."

A United Nations report in May revealed Iran is bypassing the sanctions, which were meant as an economic incentive to force the Islamic regime to abandon its nuclear program.

"Abbas is a man of courage"

Also speaking at the conference was outgoing President Shimon Peres, who answered questions from the audience.

Speaking about Palestinian Authority (PA) Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, Peres described him as "the best partner that Israel has and the best we have had. I've known him for twenty years and he's a man of his words and of courage. ...We shouldn't miss an opportunity to make peace with him."

Abbas attacked the IDF Operation Brother's Keeper, which aims to rescue the three teens kidnapped by Hamas terrorists, accusing Israel of "killing Palestinians in cold blood," and denying there is "credible information" that Hamas perpetrated the abduction.

A senior official in Abbas's Fatah faction said last Thursday that "kidnappings are the only language that Israel understands."

Regarding the terrorists responsible for the kidnapping, Peres called them "criminals who have no respect for the law and no respect for human life. The kidnapping was a terrible event and we continue to do everything we can to bring them back." 

When asked about Pope Francis, who visited Israel last month, Peres called him "the best Pope the Jewish people have had for 2000 years. He has returned the Vatican to values. Among the anti-Semitism that we see in Europe he invited Jews and Muslims to the Vatican, he brought us together in a spirit of brotherhood."

The pope made an unplanned stopped during his visit last month at the security barrier between Bethlehem and Jerusalem, stopping to pray at a section of the wall spray-painted with "Free Palestine" and "Bethlehem looks like the Warsaw Ghetto."