Netanyahu to American Jewish leaders: Iran getting closer to crossing nuclear line

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Click photo to download. Caption: Benjamin Netanyahu, Prime Minister of Israel, points to a bomb cartoon that illustrated his take on Iranian nuclear development when he addressed the 67th session of the United Nations General Assembly. Credit: UN Photo/J Carrier.

The Iranians are getting ever closer to developing nuclear weapons, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told Jewish American leaders on Monday in Jerusalem.

“I drew a line at the UN last time I was there,” Netanyahu told leaders from the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, referring to the diagram of a bomb he presented to the United Nations General Assembly last September, on which he drew a red line symbolizing the danger of the Iranian quest for nuclear capability, setting a rough deadline of summer 2013 as the date by which Iran could have enough highly enriched material to produce a nuclear bomb.

“They haven’t crossed that line, but what they’re doing is to shorten the time that it will take them to cross that line,” the prime minister said, according to Israel Hayom.

Netanyahu said the way Iran is shortening that time “is by putting in new, faster centrifuges that cut the time by one third.”

“This has to be stopped, for the interest of peace and security, for the interest of the entire world,” he said.

The Conference of Presidents is the central coordinating body for American Jewry, representing 52 national Jewish agencies from across the political and religious spectrums.

To stop Iran’s nuclear progress, according to Netanyahu, “you have to put greater pressure on them.”

“You have to upgrade the sanctions,” he said. “And they have to know that if the sanctions and diplomacy fails, they will face a credible military threat.”

Touching on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Netanyahu said his vision of a Palestinian state, which he first presented in 2009 at Bar-Ilan University, had not changed.

“I believe that the framework for this peace is what I outlined in my speech in Bar-Ilan University: two states for two peoples—a demilitarized Palestinian state that recognizes the Jewish state,” he said.

“I think to reach this solution we have to negotiate in good faith,” Netanyahu added. “Negotiating in good faith means you don’t place preconditions. In the last four years the Palestinians have regrettably placed preconditions time after time, precondition after precondition. My hope is that they leave these preconditions aside and get to the negotiating table so we don't waste another four years.”

These remarks, spoken leading up to a planned visit to Israel by U.S. President Barack Obama, outlined the main topics Netanyahu aims to discuss with Obama. U.S. officials recently informed the Prime Minister’s Office that one of the main objectives of Obama’s visit is to communicate the message to Netanyahu that he must enable the president to continue engaging Iran diplomatically and that Israel must refrain from any “military surprises.”

Obama, meanwhile, is not visiting Israel to restart the stalled Israeli-Palestinian peace process, according to the White House.

“That is not the purpose of this visit,” White House spokesman Jay Carney said last week.

President Shimon Peres, who also addressed Monday’s conference in Jerusalem, said that he thought Obama was serious in his efforts to prevent Iran from gaining nuclear weapons. Obama and Netanyahu, however, have disagreed about the setting of a red line for the nuclear threat. Obama has thus far resisted Netanyahu’s calls for a red line, describing those calls as “noise” in an interview with the CBS program “60 Minutes” last year. The two leaders would be well-served finding common ground on the Iranian issue when Obama visits Israel, American Thinker political correspondent Richard Baehr told JNS.org last week.

“There is a special need for [U.S.-Israel] coordination on Iran, especially if sabotage or military action against Iran is a possible option, as it certainly is at least for Israel,” Baehr wrote in an email.

Posted on February 12, 2013 and filed under Israel, News, U.S..