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History As It Happens

Jul 1, 2021

In 1992 Benjamin Netanyahu, then Israel’s deputy prime minister, first warned the world that Iran was “three to five years” away from developing a nuclear bomb. In the three decades since, Netanyahu has repeated similar warnings countless times in interviews and speeches, alleging that Iran is led by irrational fanatics who dream of annihilating Israel in a nuclear armageddon. Bibi is out of power now, but his legacy on Iran lives on. No foreign politician had more influence over U.S. foreign policy over the past two decades. But Iran neither has a nuclear bomb nor does it want to produce one, according to historian John Ghazvinian. Was it all a cynical bluff to maintain U.S. support after the Cold War?