Netanyahu ‘red line’ demand hardens Iran nuclear showdown

UNITED NATIONS, Sept 28: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu drew his Western allies a stark red line, pressuring them to act with a warning that Iran could have a bomb in less than a year.
Wielding a red marker pen and a cartoonish diagram of a round bomb with a fizzing fuse, Netanyahu told the UN General Assembly that the international community must put a limit on Iran’s uranium enrichment.
He made no direct threat to launch a unilateral attack, but said Iran’s enrichment facilities remain a credible “target” within a shrinking time window.
The United States is resisting demands to set a precise deadline for action, but foreign ministers from the major powers met after Netanyahu’s speech and called for Iran to act “urgently” to answer their nuclear concerns.
“At this late hour, there is only one way to peacefully prevent Iran from getting atomic bombs—and that’s by placing a clear red line on Iran’s nuclear weapons programme,” Netanyahu told the 193-member UN assembly.
“The red line must be drawn on Iran’s nuclear enrichment programme because these enrichment facilities are the only nuclear installations that we can definitely see and credibly target.”
The Israeli leader took his rough diagram of a bomb with him onto the UN stage and used a red marker to put his own limit on what Iran says is peaceful research for nuclear power.
Netanyahu claimed Iran is 70 per cent of the way toward enriching enough uranium to put itself within reach of a weapon.
The Iranian government says it is enriching uranium to 20 per cent purity—a short technical step from the 90 per cent needed for a bomb—for a medical research reactor.
The United States and its allies say the effort hides a military goal.
“By next spring, at most by next summer at current enrichment rates—they will have finished the medium enrichment and moved on to the final stage,” Netanyahu warned.
“From there, it’s only a few months, possibly a few weeks, before they get enough enriched uranium for the first bomb.”
“Faced with a clear red line, Iran will back down,” he added. “Red lines don’t lead to war, red lines prevent war.”
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad shrugged off threats of an Israeli military strike during his visit to the UN meetings this week.
Netanyahu’s attack on Iran was one of the fiercest he has made so far, however. “To understand what the world would be like with a nuclear armed Iran, just imagine the world with a nuclear armed al-Qaeda,” he said. (AGENCIES)


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