WASHINGTON — In July 1996, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addressed a joint session of Congress, warning that Iran was "extremely close" to developing nuclear weapons and that if the United States didn't act, "the lives of our children and our grandchildren" would be at risk.
"Ladies and gentlemen, time is running out," he warned. "This is not a slogan. This is not over-dramatization."
Since then, Netanyahu, now serving a second tenure as prime minister, has been consistently warning that Iran is within two or three or five years of obtaining a bomb.
Ahead of Tuesday's speech, CNN commentator Fareed Zakaria noted Netanyahu's long history of alarmism. "It's worth remembering that Netanyahu came to this Congress … 19 years ago. He made a speech in which he talked about Iran's nuclear weapons. He predicted at the time that the deadline was extremely close. He defined what he meant by that deadline, by how close it was, a couple years earlier to the Israeli parliament, where he said Iran would have nuclear weapons in three to five years. That was 25 years ago. Netanyahu has been talking about Iran's imminent nuclear program for 25 years. Just as a factual matter with respect to my friend, he's just been wrong for 25 years," Zakaria said.
The Intercept compiled a collection of Netanyahu's warnings in one place. For example, in 2002 Netanyahu was issuing similarly dire warnings about Iraq:
In his latest speech Netanyahu dismissed sanctions, inspections and negotiation as means of mitigating the threat he's been outlining, which effectively leaves a military strike as the only option. "This is a bad deal, a very bad deal. We're better off without it," Netanyahu said of the ongoing negotiations with Iran.