Courageous Arab protesters are now struggling to secure these very same rights for their peoples, for their societies. We're proud in Israel that over 1 million Arab citizens of Israel have been enjoying these rights for decades. (Applause.) Of the 300 million Arabs in the Middle East and North Africa, only Israel's Arab citizens enjoy real democratic rights. (Applause.) Now, I want you to stop for a second and think about that. Of those 300 million Arabs, less than one-half of 1 percent are truly free, and they're all citizens of Israel. (Applause.)
This startling fact reveals a basic truth: Israel is not what is wrong about the Middle East; Israel is what's right about the Middle East. (Applause.)
Israel fully supports the desire of Arab peoples in our region to live freely. We long for the day when Israel will be one of many real democracies in the -- in the Middle East.
Fifteen years ago, I stood at this very podium. By the way, it hasn't changed. (Laughter.) I stood here and I said that democracy must start to take root in the Arab world. Well, it's begun to take root, and this beginning holds the promise of a brilliant future of peace and prosperity, because I believe that a Middle East that is genuinely democratic will be a Middle East truly at peace.
But while we hope for the best and while we work for the best, we must also recognize that powerful forces oppose this future. They oppose modernity. They oppose democracy. They oppose peace.
Foremost among these forces is Iran. The tyranny in Tehran brutalizes its own people. It supports attacks against Americans troops in Afghanistan and in Iraq. It subjugates Lebanon and Gaza. It sponsors terror worldwide.
When I last stood here, I spoke of the consequences of Iran developing nuclear weapons. Now time is running out. The hinge of history may soon turn, for the greatest danger of all could soon be upon us: a militant Islamic regime armed with nuclear weapons.
Militant Islam threatens the world. It threatens Islam.
Now, I have no doubt -- I'm absolutely convinced -- that it will ultimately be defeated. I believe it will eventually succumb to the forces of freedom and progress. It depends on cloistering young minds for a given amount of years, and the process of opening up information will ultimately defeat this movement. But like other fanatacisms that were doomed to fail, militant Islam could exact an horrific price from all of us before its eventual demise.
A nuclear-armed Iran would ignite a nuclear arms race in the Middle East. It would give terrorists a nuclear umbrella. It would make the nightmare of nuclear terrorism a clear and present danger throughout the world.
See, I want you to understand what this means, because if we don't stop it, it's coming. They could put a bomb anywhere. They could put it in a missile; they're working on missiles that could reach this city. They could put it on a -- on a ship inside a container; could reach every port. They could eventually put it in a suitcase or in a subway.
Now, the threat to my country cannot be overstated. Those who dismiss it are sticking their heads on the stand. Less than seven decades after 6 million Jews were murdered, Iran's leaders deny the Holocaust of the Jewish people while calling for the annihilation of the Jewish state. Leaders who spew such venom should be banned from every respectable forum on the planet. (Applause.)
But there's something that makes the outrage even greater. Do you know what that is? It's the lack of outrage, because in much of the international community, the call(s) for our destruction are met with utter silence. It's even worse because there are many who rush to condemn Israel for defending itself against Iran's terror proxies. Not you. Not America. (Applause.)
You've acted differently. You've condemned the Iranian regime for its genocidal aims. You've passed tough sanctions against Iran.
History will salute you, America. (Applause.)
President Obama has said that the United States is determined to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons. The president successfully led the Security Council at the U.N. to adopt sanctions against Iran. You in Congress passed even tougher sanctions.
Now, these words and deeds are vitally important, yet the ayatollah regime briefly suspended its nuclear program only once, in 2003, when it feared the possibility of military action. In that same year, Moammar Gadhafi gave up his nuclear weapons program, and for the same reason. The more Iran believes that all options are on the table, the less the chance of confrontation. (Applause.) And this is why I ask you to continue to send an unequivocal message that America will never permit Iran to develop nuclear weapons. (Applause.)
Follow us on Twitter: