Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Thursday took aim at the Iranian nuclear program, saying that the regime was using negotiations to stall and urging clear "red lines" on its uranium enrichment.
"At this late hour, there is only one way to peacefully prevent Iran from getting atomic bombs and that\’s by placing a clear red line on Iran\’s nuclear weapons program," Netanyahu said in an address to the United Nations General Assembly. "Red lines don\’t lead to war; red lines prevent war."
"Iran uses diplomatic negotiations to buy time to advance its program," he said. "The international community has tried sanctions, has passed some of strongest sanctions. Oil exports have been curbed, and the Iranian economy has been hit hard. But we must fact the truth that sanctions have not stopped Iran\’s nuclear drive."
Citing data from the IAEA, Netanyahu said that Iran "doubled its centrifuges last year."
Physically drawing a red line across a diagram of the Iranian bomb, that he held up before the assembly, Netanyahu said that a red line must be placed on Iran\’s uranium enrichment program: "Then Iran will back down," he asserted.
Turning to the United States, Netanyahu said he was confident Israel and the United States could chart a way forward on how to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons.
"Israel is in discussions with the United States over this issue and I am confident that we can chart a path forward together," Netanyahu stressed.
In a direct address to to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, who delivered a speech just moments earlier, the prime minister said, "we won\’t solve our conflict with libelous speeches at the UN or unilateral declarations of statehood."
"We have to sit together, negotiate," he said, emphasizing the importance of Palestinian recognition "of the one and only Jewish state."
Following Netanyahu\’s speech, Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman, accompanying Netanyahu at the UN, told Channel 1 reporters that the red line drawn by Netanyahu could "absolutely" be effective in convincing the international community of the seriousness of the threat.
"In order to prevent the next war, we must prevent Iran from attaining nuclear weapons," he said. "It is often difficult for people to really understand what is meant by \’red lines\’ and this could be effective in explaining Israel\’s limits."
A cross-Atlantic dialogue
Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon said on Thursday that Israel and the US are engaged in a dialogue over setting a red line for Iran\’s nuclear program, even if it is not set publicly.
In an interview with Israel Radio, Ayalon added that the gaps between Israel and the US over the Iranian nuclear threat are constantly narrowing.
"The dialogue between Israel and the United States about the Iranian issue is going great right now," Ayalon said.
Ayalon added that even though US President Barack Obama did not lay down specific red lines in his Wednesday speech to the UN General Assembly, the fact that he warned against allowing Iran to obtain nuclear weapons is very important.
The deputy foreign minister also commented about the effectiveness of the economics sanctions on Iran.
"There are credible reports that the Iranian economy is on the verge of collapsing, but nothing has been achieved yet," Ayalon said.
"It is in everyone\’s best interests that [stopping Iran\’s nuclear program] is achieved using economic, diplomatic and political actions. If these actions don\’t work, then all other options are on the table," Ayalon added.