Wed, Feb 13, 2013 - Page 3 News List

Netanyahu says Tehran closer to nuclear ‘red line’

ON THE ALERT:Israel’s prime minister said that at the current pace, Tehran could have nearly all the material needed to create its first bomb by summer

AFP, JERUSALEM

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday said that Iran was now closer to crossing the “red line” after which it would be able to build a nuclear weapon, but had not yet reached that stage.

“The Iranians are closer to the red line that I set at the United Nations,” his office quoted him as telling visiting US Jewish leaders. “They haven’t crossed it yet, but they are shortening the time needed to cross it.”

“This must be stopped,” he said. “We need to apply stronger pressure and harsher sanctions.”

In a September address to the UN General Assembly, Netanyahu called for a “clear red line” to stop Iran getting a nuclear bomb.

The Israeli prime minister used a red marker pen to draw a line through a cartoon diagram of a bomb to illustrate what the international community’s limit for Iran’s uranium enrichment program should be.

He said that Tehran had 70 percent of the necessary level of uranium enrichment for a bomb and warned that at the current pace, the Islamic republic could have nearly all the material needed to create a first bomb by summer.

Netanyahu has publicly aired his differences with the US over the Iran issue, criticizing Washington for failing to set its own “red lines” that would trigger military action against Tehran.

US President Barack Obama favors diplomacy and international sanctions against Iran to rein in its atomic program.

The Iranian government says it is enriching uranium to 20 percent purity — a short technical step from the 90 percent needed for a nuclear bomb — for a medical research reactor.

The West believes the effort hides a military goal.

Much of the international community fears Iran’s nuclear program includes efforts to develop nuclear weapons, a charge Tehran has repeatedly denied.

Israel, the Middle East’s sole, albeit undeclared, nuclear power, believes Iran must be prevented from reaching military nuclear capabilities at any cost and refuses to rule out military intervention to that end.

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