In a joint press conference with President Joe Biden on Thursday, Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid warned that words alone would not stop Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons and that the U.S. and other members of the “free world” must be willing to use military force to stop Iran.
Lapid said that the Iranian government is seeking nuclear weapons and sponsoring terrorist organizations that attack Israel over its quality of life and freedoms. He added that Iran wants “to destroy the only Jewish state in the world that we will never let that happen.”
“Words will not stop them Mr. President,” Lapid continued. “Diplomacy will not stop them. The only thing that will stop Iran is knowing that if they continue to develop their nuclear program the free world will use force. The only way to stop them is to put a credible military threat on the table.”
“You have said many times, Mr. President, that big countries do not bluff,” Lapid continued, referring to remarks Biden delivered in January. At the time, he said the U.S. would punish Russia if it invades Ukraine but said the U.S. response to Russia should be proportional, that the U.S. should not “bluff” by communicating punitive actions it’s unwilling to carry out or isn’t consistent with North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) allies.
Lapid said, “I completely agree it should not be a bluff, but the real thing the Iranian regime must know is that if they continue to deceive the world they will pay a heavy price.”
Iran’s nuclear program has been an issue of increased concern in recent months. Iran has continued to stockpile and enrich uranium at levels beyond those specified in the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. In June, Iran vowed an immediate response if the U.S. or any other countries tried to punish Iran for ducking nuclear inspection efforts.
The Biden administration has continued to negotiate with Iran for a return to compliance with the 2015 Iran nuclear deal after President Donald Trump withdrew the U.S. from the deal in 2018 and Iran abandoned the constraints on nuclear development that the 2015 deal stipulated. Efforts to bring about a return to compliance with the Iran nuclear deal have hit multiple roadblocks and Biden said on Wednesday that the U.S. would not remove a U.S. terrorism designation against Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) even if it meant efforts to restart the 2015 Iran nuclear deal fell apart.
During the Thursday press conference, Biden followed spoke after Lapid, saying, “You have an iron-clad commitment from the United States of America to Israel’s security. An ironclad commitment we’ll make sure that Israel can defend itself by itself.”
Biden also said, “I was proud that last year we also provided an additional 1 billion to replenish Israel’s iron dome supplies, making 2022 the largest single-year military assistance that Israel has ever received.”
“We’ll continue to work with Israel to counter other threats from Iran throughout the region, including support for terrorism, a ballistic missile program that continues and the proliferation of weapons to terrorists and proxies like Hezbollah,” Biden added.