Benjamin Netanyahu, Prime Minister of Israel, uses a chart as he speaks about the Iranian nuclear program during the 67th session of the United Nations General Assembly.(AFP Photo / Stan Honda)
Iran might have enough enriched uranium to build nuclear weapon by next summer, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared at the UN General Assembly. He urged the gathering to draw a “red line” for the Iranian nuclear program.
It is getting “late, very late” to stop the Islamic Republic from having the capability to develop an atomic bomb, Netanyahu stressed to the assembly in New York.
“Iran is 70 per cent of the way there, and are well into the second stage. By next summer, at current enrichment rates, they will have finished the medium enrichment and move on to the final stage. From there it is only a few more weeks before they have enriched enough for a bomb,” he said.
Pointedly nodding at the International Atomic Energy Agency’s reports, the Israeli PM said the only way to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear arsenal is to forbid it from amassing highly enriched uranium. A country like Iran needs thousands of centrifuges to produce the substance, and such facilities cannot be hidden, Netanyahu said.
While talking, Netanyahu took out a basic diagram depicting a bomb split into three sections, with markings indicating 70 per cent and 90 per cent progress.
Then the PM took out a marker and drew his own red line on the chart highlighting the point of no return – the completion of the second stage and 90 percent enrichment.
“I believe that faced with a clear red line, Iran will back down – and it will give more time for sanctions and diplomacy,” he concluded, adding that Israel is already in talks with the US on how to chart a path to preventing the Persian country from acquiring nuclear weapons.
Netanyahu has been campaigning for a “clear red line” to curb Iran’s alleged nuclear ambitions since the beginning of September. The hard pressure apparently cost him a meeting with US President Barack Obama. The American leader refused to sit down to talks with Netanyahu on the outlines of the 67th UN General Assembly after the Israeli PM lashed out at Washington’s unwillingness “to set deadlines” for Iran.
The address to global leaders may well be a final warning before Israel takes matters into its own hands. The country’s leadership has been relentlessly issuing warnings that it may soon stage a unilateral attack on Iran, flouting even American wishes.
Israel considers Iran an “existential” peril, given the rhetoric coming from the Islamic Republic’s leaders that Israel will be eliminited.
Nevertheless, Iran insists that its nuclear program seeks to meet energy supplies and medical needs.
The US, while trying to keep Israel away from attacking Iran, believes that Tehran is yet to make a final decision on whether to use its uranium stocks to build weapons. So far, in Washington’s opinion, the Islamic Republic does not appear to possess the necessary infrascture to do so.
‘Nothing will happen until November’
Netanyahu does not need to convince the entire world of his fears, as one actor is sufficient, Shikha Dalmia, senior policy analyst at the think tank Reason Foundation told RT.
“He is trying to raise the alarm level in the world over the possibility of a nuclear Iran,” she said. “But the fact of the matter is that he does not have to convince the whole world of his case. He just has to convince one country and essentially one person, and that is President Obama. Without US support for some kind of military intervention, he can draw whatever maps and charts and other graphs that he wants. It’s not going to mean a lot.”
And no matter what the US administration opts to do, it will have to wait until November, says Dalmia.
“One can argue that Iran would not be a full-fledged war, it would be a surgical strike, but it is till quite a lot,” she said. “So whether Obama is going to be able to undertake an action like that is completely up in the air, but one thing is clear: he will not want it before November, before the elections.”