All-Star Panel: Israel's prime minister throws down the nuclear gauntlet

'Special Report' All-Star panel weighs in


This is a rush transcript from "Special Report," October 1, 2013. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.


BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER: Israel will not allow Iran to get nuclear weapons. If Israel is forced to stand alone, Israel will stand alone. Yet in standing alone, Israel will know that we will be defending many, many others. Three decades ago President Ronald Reagan famously advised, trust but verify. When it comes to Iran's nuclear program, here's my advice -- distrust, dismantle, and verify.


BRET BAIER: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the United Nations General Assembly today with a very forceful and blunt speech about the threat from Iran. We're back with the panel. Steve?

STEVE HAYES, SENIOR WRITER, THE WEEKLY STANDARD: I thought this was an absolutely extraordinary speech, a blistering, sort of paint-peeling attack on President Obama without actually attacking President Obama. The question to ask yourself after listening to this attack, where he says, as you just played, Israel stands alone if Israel has to stand alone, echoes of Winston Churchill, would he have given that speech if he heard from President Obama yesterday that there is no chance Israel will have to stand along? Of course, he wouldn't. It would have been a counterproductive speech for him to have given. Obviously that's not what he heard.

Clearly, what we're seeing from the Obama administration in public with respect to Iran is what he's hearing from them in private, so he felt the need to make this speech and to basically say this is on us.

BAIER: Mara, to Steve's point, it does go directly to what that meeting was behind the scenes, and if history play as role here, they have been tense before.

MARA LIASSON, NATIONAL PUBLIC RADIO: They have been tense before. They seem to be less tense recently. They seem to be more on the same page and the White House went to great lengths today to say, look, they wouldn't say that we are as skeptical of Iran's intentions as Israel, but they did say we aren't taking Iran's statements at face value. We are going to put them to the test.  We're not going to lift sanctions. The only reason that they've come to these talks are because they have crippling sanctions. And that is true. The sanctions have really hurt the Iranian economy.

And what Netanyahu is saying is we haven't changed one bit about our intentions to strike if necessary if we think that Iran has breakout capacity. And the president -- this is not like Syria. This is not a problem that you can just kind of make go away with some kind of clever diplomatic gambit. This is real. And I think that Iran has to either give up its nuclear programs really or there is going to be a military strike.

BAIER: The prime minister made the comparison and others have to North Korea and how the U.S. has dealt previously and previous administrations and this one with North Korea to the point where they got the nuclear weapon.

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: And that's what the Israelis are worried about. It is not as if there are only two alternatives, you strip the Iranians of their nukes or there's a strike by the U.S., or anybody else. There's a third way, and that's what the Israelis are so afraid of. The deal everybody in the West is talking about and lusting for is one where you allow Iran to maintain enrichment capacity, but you put limits on it and you take away a little bit of uranium, which is a prescription for Iran going nuclear, perhaps at a little bit of a later date.

But once you grant it the right to enrich, it is absolutely unlimited in its capacity. It could do so clandestinely and it can do so up to a point where it's a week or two away from a breakout. So it's essentially a nuclear-armed country, but a week or two away, so it's never one that can say you have a bomb. And the Israelis understand if you can go nuclear in two weeks, you are nuclear in power. So it will look like a good deal. It will look like Iran is constrained. The Israelis will know they are under the threat. And I think this is a declaration that they are prepared to attack even during negotiations if they have to. This is a very, extremely strong statement.

BAIER: Are they closer tonight to acting than they were yesterday?

KRAUTHAMMER: Absolutely. The Israelis now understand they're alone in the world like the Czechs in 1938, and that's how they see it. And they will not allow themselves to go the way of Czechoslovakia.

BAIER: That is it for the panel, but stay tuned for a very determined group here in Washington.

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