(Newsroom America) -- Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has called on the international community to set a "clear red line" for taking action to prevent Iran from completing the second stage of nuclear enrichment necessary to make a bomb.
Speaking to the United Nations General Assembly, Mr Netanyahu said faced with a clear red line by next summer at the latest, "Iran will back down."
“This will give more time for sanctions and diplomacy to convince Iran to dismantle its nuclear weapons programme altogether,” he said. “Israel is in discussions with the United States over this issue, and I am confident that we can chart a path forward together.”
The Israeli leader divided bomb production into three stages – low, medium and high enriched uranium - and said Iran has already completed the first stage and is now well into the second stage.
“By next spring, at most by next summer at current enrichment rates, they will have finished the medium enrichment and move on to the final stage,” he said. “The 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's a few months away or a few weeks away from amassing enough enriched uranium to make a nuclear weapon. Each day, that point is getting closer. That's why I speak today with such a sense of urgency. And that's why everyone should have a sense of urgency.”
Mr Netanyahu said the relevant question was not when Iran would get the bomb, but "at what stage can we no longer stop Iran from getting the bomb."
"The red line must be drawn on Iran's nuclear enrichment programme because these enrichment facilities are the only nuclear installations that we can definitely see and credibly target."
He said he feared Iran would use such a weapon to try to eliminate Israel.
“Nothing could imperil the world more than the arming of Iran with nuclear weapons.”
Likening a nuclear-armed Iran to a nuclear-armed Al-Qaida, he said that both were fired "by the same hatred, and driven by the same lust for violence".
He pointed to the actions of Iran to date, even without nuclear weapons: it had brutally put down protests for democracy in its own country in 2009, and abetted the killing of American soldiers in Iraq. It had turned Lebanon and Gaza into terrorist strongholds, embedding thousands of rockets and missiles. Thousands of those had been fired at Israel by their terrorist proxies. It had even plotted to blow up a restaurant a few blocks from the White House, and continued to deny the Holocaust, as it had done again this week at the United Nations. Given that record of Iranian aggression, he asked the Assembly to imagine its actions with nuclear weapons. In that context, “who among you would feel safe in the Middle East?” Who would feel safe in Europe, in America or anywhere?
Some believed that a nuclear-armed Iran could be deterred, as the Soviet Union had once been. But, that was a dangerous assumption. Secular Marxists were very different from a country with suicide bombers, he warned.
For Iran, in fact, mutually assured destruction was not a deterrent, it was an inducement, said the prime minister.
One of their leaders had said that using a nuclear weapon on Israel would destroy everything, but it would only “harm” the Islamic world, and, thus, it was not irrational to contemplate such a reality.
He had been speaking about the need to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon for 15 years, but now "the hour is getting very late".
Diplomacy had not worked, as Iran had used those negotiations to bide time to advance its nuclear programme. Strong sanctions had had an effect on the Iranian economy, but they had not stopped the country’s nuclear programme.
At this late hour, there was one way to prevent a nuclear-armed Iran, and that was to “place a clear red line” on its nuclear programme, he said.
“Red lines don’t lead to war, red lines prevent war”, he said in that respect, describing several incidents in history where that rule had been proven true; for example, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO)’s red line had prevented war in Europe for half a century, and the invasion of Kuwait by Iraq and other conflicts might have been avoided with a clear red line.
United States President Barack Obama earlier told the General Assembly that a nuclear-armed Iran could not be contained.
He said the goal to prevent such a reality united Israelis and Americans, as well as others around the world. "Together we can chart a course forward," he said.