Israel’s Netanyahu draws red line on Iran’s nuclear programme in UN address
In a theatrical gesture, while holding up a cartoon-like drawing of a bomb with a fuse, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu drew his “red line” for Iran’s nuclear programme.
Netanyahu exhorted the United Nations to stop Iran from developing nuclear weapons. Using an illustration of a bomb for emphasis, he said Tehran will be on the brink of manufacturing nuclear weaponry in less than a year and literally drew a red line just below a “final stage” to a bomb to indicate the severity of the situation.
While surveys in Israel show that most Israelis oppose launching unilateral strikes on Iran, Netanyahu’s UN speech has pulled back speculation for an imminent Israeli strike on Iranian nuclear facilities this year.
“A red line should be drawn right here, before Iran completes the second stage of nuclear enrichment necessary to make a bomb, before Iran gets to a point where it is a few months or a few weeks away from amassing enough enriched uranium to make a nuclear weapon”, he said.
Obama said in his speech to the General Assembly the United States will “do what we must” to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons, setting no ultimatum or clear “red line”.
Iran says it is enriching uranium only for peaceful energy purposes, and denies it is building a nuclear weapon. Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said in his speech to the General Assembly that Iran was under threat of military action from “uncivilized Zionists”, referring to Israel.
Ahmadinejad has also said that Israel has no roots in the Middle East, and would eventually be “eliminated”. Israel, believed to have the Middle East’s only atomic arsenal, sees a nuclear-armed Iran as a threat to its existence.
According to an August report by the U.N. International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Iran has stockpiled 91.4kg (201.lb). Some experts say Iran would need 200-250kg (440-550lb) of such material for a weapon.
Speeches by Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas drew the most attention at the United Nations on Thursday. “In our endeavor, we do not seek to delegitimise an existing state – that is Israel – but rather to assert the state that must be realised – that is Palestine.”
Shortly after Abbas condemned Jewish settlement-building as “racist”, Netanyahu criticized Abbas’ remarks. “We won’t solve our conflict with libelous speeches at the U.N. That’s not the way to solve them”, Netanyahu said.