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Middle east

Netanyahu urges UN to draw ‘red line’ for nuclear Iran

© AFP

Latest update : 2012-09-28

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the UN Thursday that a “red line” should be drawn to prevent Iran from building a nuclear bomb. He also hit back at the Palestinian President’s earlier comments on settlements as “ethnic cleansing”.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu drew his “red line” for Iran’s nuclear program on Thursday - the point at which Iran has amassed nearly enough highly enriched uranium for a single atomic bomb - and voiced confidence that the United States shares his view.

Addressing the UN General Assembly, Netanyahu appeared to pull back from any threat of an imminent Israeli attack on Iranian nuclear facilities, saying the Islamic Republic would be on the brink of producing an atomic weapon only next summer.

He added that he was confident the United States and Israel, which have disagreed about the urgency of military action, could devise a common strategy to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon.

Holding up a cartoon-like drawing of a bomb with a fuse, Netanyahu literally drew a red line just below a label reading “final stage” to a bomb, in which it was 90 percent along the path of having sufficient weapons-grade material.

“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.

“Each day that point is getting closer, and that is why I speak today with such a sense of urgency, and that is why everyone should have a sense of urgency.”

Netanyahu added that “the red line must be drawn on Iran’s nuclear enrichment program because these enrichment facilities are the only nuclear installations that we can definitely see and credibly target.”

“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 all together,” he added.

Netanyahu was referring to Iran’s enrichment of uranium to 20 percent purity, a level it says is required for medical isotopes but which also brings it close to bomb-fuel grade.

Iranian stockpiling

An August report by UN inspectors said Iran has stockpiled 91.4 kg of the 20 percent material.

According to the UN nuclear watchdog, around 25 kg of uranium enriched to a 90 percent purity level would be needed for a single nuclear weapon.

Israel considers a nuclear-armed Iran to be an existential threat, citing Iranian calls for Israel’s destruction, Iran’s development of missiles capable of striking the Jewish state and its support for hostile Arab militant groups.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas also addressed the General Assembly on Thursday, accusing Israel of ethnic cleansing for building settlements in east Jerusalem.

``It is a campaign of ethnic cleansing against the Palestinian people via the demolition of their homes,'' Abbas said in his speech.

Israel conquered the eastern part of Jerusalem from Jordan during the 1967 Mideast War. It later annexed it, but the move has not been internationally recognized. The Palestinians want east Jerusalem to be the capital of a future state in the West Bank.

Upgraded status for Palestine

Abbas also said he has opened talks on a new bid for international recognition at the UN, but didn't specify exactly when he will ask the General Assembly to vote.

"Intensive consultations with the various regional organizations and the state members" were under way, he said.

The Palestinians will apply to the General Assembly for nonmember status. That stands in sharp contrast to last year, when they asked the Security Council to admit them as a full member state, but the bid failed.

Abbas insisted that the new quest for recognition was ``not seeking to delegitimize Israel, but rather establish a state that should be established: Palestine.''

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu accused Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas of slandering his country on Thursday, as the pair gave rival addresses to the UN General Assembly.

"We won’t solve our conflict with libelous speeches at the UN. We won’t solve our conflict with unilateral declarations of statehood," Netanyahu declared, shortly after Abbas condemned Jewish settlement building as "racist."
 

(France24 with wires)

Date created : 2012-09-27

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