Benjamin Netanyahu: 'Iran will back down' if red lines are drawn (+video)
Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, put the world on notice during his UN speech about his 'duty' to act 'before it's too late' to protect his country.
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The Israeli leader had sought a commitment from Obama to set down red lines for Iran, to let it know the point at which continued progress in its nuclear program would trigger US military action. But Obama refused to go along, saying instead that, while the US will not allow Iran to acquire a nuclear weapon, he also believes there is still “time and space” for sanctions to constrain Iran.Skip to next paragraph
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Obama will speak with Netanyahu by phone Friday, the White House said Thursday. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton was scheduled to hold a one-on-one meeting with the Israeli leader in New York Thursday evening.
In his UN remarks, Netanyahu confirmed that Israel is in substantive discussions with the US on the Iranian issue, and he said he is “confident” the two countries will “go forward in a common position.” He said that is something Republicans and Democrats alike can support – a comment that seemed designed to address the concerns of some Israelis and American Jews who have openly worried that Netanyahu is injecting himself into the US presidential campaign.
Some Israeli officials suggested in the run-up to Netanyahu’s speech that discussions between the two countries are reducing differences over how to approach Iran.
Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon told Israel Radio Thursday that Obama's statements on Iran at the UN were "important, albeit measured,” and he added that the two governments were nearing an accord on setting limits for Iran. His comments were closely watched because Mr. Ayalon is the ministry official charged with the Iran portfolio.
Netanyahu’s stark picture of the threat Iran poses – and the failure of sanctions and diplomacy to contain it – was not the only position coming out of Israel. Even as Netanyahu sounded his tough tone, a leaked Israeli Foreign Ministry document suggested that international sanctions on Iran are having a greater impact than anticipated – and could result in an antigovernment uprising that topples the regime.
The report, which recommends an additional round of international sanctions as a path to dissuading Iran, provided an awkward counterpoint to Netanyahu’s insistence that only a credible threat of military action can dissuade Iran from its current nuclear path.
Israeli officials traveling with Netanyahu acknowledge that the sanctions are having an impact, but they reiterate the prime minister’s conviction that sanctions won’t derail Iran’s enrichment program in time to stop it from acquiring a nuclear weapon.
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