NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — In a dramatic move, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned the world that Iran will have enough enriched uranium to make a bomb by next summer. Then he diagrammed the actual “red line” that he says cannot be crossed.
Netanyahu is apparently a big believer in show and tell.
He wanted to get the world’s attention and he did it with a simple diagram that could be shown in elementary schools, only to the Israeli prime minister there was nothing elementary about the stakes at hand — stopping Iran from getting the bomb, CBS 2′s Marcia Kramer reported.
“This is a bomb,” Netanyahu told the United Nations General Assembly on Thursday. “The hour is getting late, very late.”
In careful detail, Netanyahu told world leaders the steps it would take for Iran to build a bomb, first getting low-grade enriched uranium from its reactors, then medium grade, then high grade and then a detonator. He said the first stage is nearly done.
“By next spring, at most by next summer, at current enrichment rates they will have finished the medium enrichment and move to the final stage. From there, it’s only a few months, possibly a few weeks, before they get enough uranium for the first bomb,” Netanyahu said.
And in a sign not only to President Barack Obama but to other world leaders, the Israeli leader took out a pen and drew a red line, saying Iran must never be allowed to get high level-enriched uranium.
“A red line should be drawn right here before Iran completes the second stage of nuclear enrichment to make a bomb,” Netanyahu said.
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has repeatedly called for Israel’s destruction, and in recent weeks Israeli leaders have warned that if Iran’s program remains unchecked it may have to go it alone and stage a military strike with or without American support.
But on Thursday Netanyahu tried to get all nations behind enforcing his red line.
“Ladies and gentlemen, the relevant question is not when Iran will get the bomb. The relevant question is when can we no longer stop Iran from getting the bomb? The red line must be drawn and I believe that faced with a clear red line Iran will back down,” Netanyahu said.
Netanyahu’s speech must have led to a thaw with the White House because after weeks of saying he was too busy to meet or talk with Netanyahu, President Obama and the Israeli leader will speak by telephone Friday.
There was no immediate reaction from the Iranian government.
Representatives from the United States, Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany are expected to meet on the Iranian nuclear issue.
Bibi vs. Abbas
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said he’s furious there is no peace treaty with the Israelis, and so he leveled charges at his Middle East neighbors for continuing to build settlements.
“It is a campaign of ethnic cleansing against the Palestinian people via the demolition of their homes,” Abbas said.
He sought to paint the Israelis as demons. Netanyahu sought to leave another impression.
“Every year thousands of Arabs from the Palestinians and Arabs from throughout the Middle East come to Israel to be treated in Israeli hospitals by Israeli doctors. I know you’re not going to hear that from speeches around this podium but that’s the truth,” Netanyahu said.
But Abbas had another goal. He said he wants the Palestinian Liberation Organization elevated from permanent observer to “non-member observer state,” which would allow the Palestinians to participate in General Assembly debates and improve their chances of joining the International Criminal Court and certain UN agencies.
“In our endeavors we do not seek to de-legitimize an existing state, that is Israel, but rather to assert the state that must be realized that is Palestine,” Abbas said.
“President Abbas just spoke here. I say to him and I say to you: we won’t solve our conflict with libelous speeches at the UN. We won’t solve our conflict with unilateral declarations of statehood,” Netanyahu said in response.
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