Benjamin Netanyahu: Iran is almost to the brink (+video)
At the United Nations, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu drew a clear red line in hope that Iran will back down from a path towards nuclear weapon development. Three rounds of talks with Iran this year have not yet lead the country to halt its nuclear program.
(Page 2 of 2)
Britain, France, Germany, the United States, Russia and China have negotiated with Iran without success in one form or another for nearly 10 years to persuade it to halt its nuclear pro gram in exchange for political and economic incentives.Skip to next paragraph
Subscribe Today to the Monitor
The six nations, whose foreign ministers met at the United Nations on Thursday, have held three rounds of talks with Iran this year without visible progress. A U.S. official voiced hope for a fourth round "in the not-too-distant future."
As if to highlight Netanyahu's concerns that tougher U.N. sanctions against Iran are unlikely due to Russian and Chinese resistance, the group failed to agree on any plan for further steps against Tehran, envoys said.
Obama set no ultimatum or clear "red line" of his own, despite public urging from Netanyahu over the past several weeks that has aggravated strains between the two leaders.
"Chart a path forward"
Seeking re-election, Obama has faced criticism from Republican challenger Mitt Romney that the president is being too tough with Israel and not tough enough with Iran.
"I very much appreciate the president's position, as does everyone in my country. We share the goal of stopping Iran's nuclear weapons program," Netanyahu said.
"Israel is in discussions with the United States over this issue, and I am confident we can chart a path forward together," he said.
He spoke a day after Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad addressed the General Assembly. Ahmadinejad said on Monday he did not take seriously the threat that Israel could launch a military strike on Iran's nuclear facilities. He also said Israel has no roots in the Middle East and would be "eliminated."
Netanyahu was due to meet with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton later in the day. White House spokesman Jay Carney said he expected Obama to have a follow-up phone call with Netanyahu, probably on Friday.
Obama has drawn criticism from Republicans for opting not to meet Netanyahu or other foreign leaders on the sidelines of the General Assembly and focus instead on his re-election campaign.
Netanyahu has faced opposition within his cabinet and from former Israeli security chiefs to any go-it-alone attack on Iran. Opinion polls show that Israelis are wary of any such strike by their military, whose capability of destroying underground Iranian facilities is limited.
Israel, believed to have the Middle East's only atomic arsenal, sees a nuclear-armed Iran as a threat to its existence and has expressed frustration over the failure of diplomacy and sanctions to rein in Tehran's nuclear activity. Iran says it is enriching uranium only for peaceful energy and medical purposes, not for nuclear bombs.
"By sometime next year, Iran could potentially amass enough 20 percent enriched material that could - if Iran decides to expel inspectors and convert the material to weapons grade - provide enough nuclear material for one bomb," Kimball said.
"But enough material for one bomb doesn't constitute an effective, deliverable nuclear arsenal."