Netanyahu Calls for ‘Clear Red Line’ on Iran’s Nuclear Program

Posted September 27th, 2012 at 3:00 pm (UTC-5)
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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is calling on the world to draw a 'clear red line' on Iran's nuclear program, warning it is the only way to prevent nuclear war.

The Israeli leader made his comment to delegates at the United Nations General Assembly Thursday – using a diagram of a bomb – at times getting a strong round of applause.

“A red line should be drawn right here, before, before Iran completes the second stage of nuclear enrichment necessary to make a bomb, before Iran gets to a point where it's a few months away or a few weeks away from amassing enough enriched uranium to make a nuclear weapon.”

Mr. Netanyahu said Iran may get to that point by the end of next summer if its uranium enrichment facilities are allowed to remain in operation.

“These enrichment facilities are the only nuclear installations that we can definitely see and credibly target. And I believe that faced with a clear red line, Iran will back down. And this will give more time for sanctions and diplomacy to convince Iran to dismantle its nuclear weapons program altogether.”

The Israeli prime minister said Iran's “apocalyptic” leaders will not hesitate to use nuclear weapons against Israel or anyone else and harshly criticized those who suggests a nuclear Iran can help stabilize the Middle East. He said that would be like saying a nuclear-armed al-Qaida would help bring world peace.

Tehran insists its nuclear goals are peaceful but world powers suspect Iran is seeking to develop nuclear weapons and have hit Iran with several rounds of sanctions.

In his speech to the General Assembly Wednesday, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad issued a veiled condemnation of Israel as “uncivilized Zionists.”

A leaked report by the Israeli Foreign Ministry says those sanctions are having an impact, hitting the Iranian economy harder than first thought. The Haaretz newspaper says the report finds Iranian oil exports have declined by more than 50 percent over the past year, causing a significant slump in oil revenue.

Earlier, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas blamed Israel for the broken down Middle East peace process, saying Israel is rejecting a two-state solution and is instead trying to force the collapse of the Palestinian Authority.

Mr. Abbas received a long round of applause as he took the podium at the United Nations General Assembly Thursday before criticizing Israel for continuing to build new settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

Israel says negotiations with the Palestinians must not come with preconditions. But Mr. Abbas says it is not too late to salvage the peace process.

“Despite all the complexities of the prevailing reality and all the frustrations that abound, we say before the international community: there is still a chance – maybe the last – to save the two-state solution and to salvage peace.”

Mr. Abbas also asked the U.N. General Assembly to recognize Palestine as an observer state. Mr. Abbas used his 2011 speech to launch a historic bid to gain the territory full membership in the United Nations, which was rejected.

Also Thursday, Tunisian President Moncef Marzouki addressed the U.N. General Assembly.

Mr. Marzouki called for an end to the regime of Syrian President Basher al-Assad and said the U.N. needs to eliminate what he called the “scourge” of dictatorship, just like the world eliminated polio and smallpox.

“We consider that dictatorship is a disease. A disease threatening peace and security as well as the prosperity of people.”

Protests in Tunisia in 2010 led to the fall of former dictator Zine el Abidine Ben Ali, an event credited with sparking the Arab Spring.