Netanyahu bullish on Iran weapons


Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu said today he was confident Israel and the United States could chart a way forward on how to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons.

"Israel is in discussions with the United States over this issue and I am confident that we can chart a path forward together," Mr Netanyahu told the UN General Assembly in a speech.

He told his audience that the international community must impose explicit "red lines" on Iran's uranium enrichment program to prevent it from attaining nuclear weapons.

"Red lines don't lead to war, they prevent war," Mr Netanyahu said. Using a rudimentary cartoon diagram of a bomb to illustrate the progress of Iran's uranium enrichment, the Israeli leader said the Tehran had already passed the first stage toward nuclear weaponisation.

"By next spring, at most next summer, at current enrichment rates, they will have finished the medium enrichment and moved on to the final stage," he said. "From there it's only a few months, possibly a few weeks, before they get enough enriched uranium for the first bomb."

Mr Netanyahu's speech follows weeks of open disagreement with President Barack Obama's administration over Iran.

Warning that the Islamic Republic may be just months away from developing a nuclear weapons capability, the Israeli leader has asked the United States to set explicit "red lines" that would justify military action, a step US officials have declined to take as they depend for now on economic sanctions to pressure Iran.

Iran, which says its nuclear facilities are for peaceful civilian purposes, has vowed to retaliate if attacked. Its uranium enrichment activities are under international monitoring to prevent diversion to weapons use.

The International Atomic Energy Agency said it has seen no diversion. Still, the agency reiterated last month that it "is unable to provide credible assurance about the absence of undeclared nuclear material and activities in Iran, and therefore to conclude that all nuclear material in Iran is in peaceful activities."

Mr Netanyahu spoke at the United Nations a day after Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad stood at the same venue and cited what he termed the "continued threat by the uncivilised Zionists to resort to a military action against our great nation".


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