National Security

Israeli Ambassador: Iran Could Have Nuclear Weapons in Less Than 10 Years

Dermer slams SPLC, Obama admin for failure to decry 'militant Islam'

Ron Dermer
Ron Dermer / AP

Israeli Ambassador Ron Dermer is warning that Iran could have a functional nuclear weapon in less than 10 years thanks to the Obama administration's flawed efforts to negotiate a nuclear deal "that does not block Iran's path to the bomb [but] ultimately paves it," according to recent remarks in which the ambassador also slammed U.S. officials and organizations for failing to clearly identify militant Islam as a global enemy of the West.

Dermer, speaking Tuesday after receiving the Center for Security Policy's (CSP) 2016 Freedom Flame award, took aim at the Obama administration for helping Iran preserve its nuclear infrastructure and achieve the means to build a nuclear weapon within 10 years.

Dermer also criticized organizations such as the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), which boycotted his appearance before the CSP, for attempting to restrict free speech and label those who warn about the rise of radical Islam as bigots.

"Rather than dismantle Iran's military nuclear capability this deal merely places restrictions on this capability for a limited time, restrictions that are automatically removed even if Iran does not change its behavior," Dermer warned. "So in nine to 14 years, Iran could remain the foremost sponsor of terror in the world and legitimately enrich enough uranium to place it on the cusp of having the material for an entire nuclear arsenal."

"In the meantime, without violating a single clause of the deal, Iran can conduct [research and development] on more and more advanced [nuclear] centrifuges," he added. "And unless it is stopped, Iran will continue to defy [United Nations] Security Council resolutions to build intercontinental ballistic missiles for its future nuclear arsenal."

Those missiles, Dermer warned, "they're not for Israel, they're for you."

The Israeli government "looks forward to discussing with the Trump administration the nuclear deal with Iran, as well as the dangerous regime it has helped strengthen," Dermer said.

The ambassador went on to chastise the SPLC and other organizations that seek to limit public discourse about radical Islam by dubbing their opponents as hate-mongers.

The SPLC recently came under fire for issuing a list of purported Islamophobes that included the CSP, its leader, Frank Gaffney, and leading Muslim reformers who have sought to eradicate radical Islam.

"An enemy you refuse to name is an enemy you will never understand and an enemy you never understand is an enemy you will not defeat," Dermer said in an apparent reference to groups such as the SPLC and the Obama administration, which refuses to label radical Islam as the root of most global terrorist activities.

Americans should "reject the shameful efforts of some to prevent any serious discussion about the nature of the enemy we face," Dermer said, referencing the controversy over his appearance before the CSP.

The SPLC, Dermer recounted, emailed the Israeli embassy "asking me why I was accepting an award from what they called an anti-Muslim hate group. I was a bit surprised."

"Frank Gaffney is no hater and no bigot," Dermer said. "The CSP is not only an unabashed defender of my country Israel, it also is no hate group."

"The fact that it was the SPLC that was making this accusation got my attention because I always thought highly of that organization," Dermer added, referring to the group's past work to dismantle the KKK and hold racists accountable.

However, in recent months the SPLC released a list of 15 individuals it described as anti-Muslim extremists. The SPLC was criticized for including on this list prominent Muslim reformers such as Maajid Nawaz and Ayaan Hirsi Ali, both of whom have gained prominence for promoting peaceful versions of Islam.

"There was nothing to justify the wholesale defamation of this organization or its leadership," Dermer said. "But then I read some more and I discovered the SPLC had made up a list of those they label anti-Muslim extremists and as I read that list I was simply stunned."

The "biggest shock of all to me was when I saw a name on that list as someone I personally regard as a hero," Dermer said, referring to Hirsi Ali.

"In an Orwellian inversion of reality, a woman whose life is threatened every day by extremist Muslims is labeled by the SPLC an anti-Muslim extremist. Have those who put Ayaan on that list no shame? Have they no decency? The SPLC and others who asked me not to come here tonight claim to support free and open debate, but in reality they want to stifle debate. They preach tolerance for those who look different, but they are in effect practicing intolerance for those who think different."

"I don't stand with the defamers and blacklisters," Dermer said. "I stand with Ayaan Hirsi Ali."