Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, put the world on notice during his UN speech about his 'duty' to act 'before it's too late' to protect his country.
United Nations, N.Y.
Having failed to get from President Obama a public declaration of “red lines” for Iran, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu used the United Nations stage to set his own such lines Thursday – declaring that Iran’s uranium enrichment program must be stopped before it amasses enough material to build a nuclear bomb.
“Faced with a clear red line, Iran will back down,” Mr. Netanyahu said, concluding a technical yet at times almost folksy explanation of the threat posed by Iran’s nuclear progress. He said that “at most by next summer” an unrestrained Iran will have the stockpile of medium-enriched uranium it would need to quickly build a nuclear weapon.
That timetable leaves little opportunity for sanctions and stalled international talks to resolve the crisis diplomatically. But it also suggests that Israel is not on the verge of launching airstrikes against Iranian nuclear facilities – perhaps even before US elections in November – as some Middle East experts have speculated.
Netanyahu’s call for red lines was not a surprise. But he placed Iran’s nuclear threat in a broader context of what he said is the global struggle between forces of progress and darkness.
“Today, a great battle is being waged between the modern and the medieval,” he said, with the forces of “intolerant and extremist Islam” arrayed against the tolerant and freedom-loving world.
The protagonists of this new “medievalism,” Netanyahu said, were led by a country, Iran, and an organization, Al Qaeda. A world that can easily fathom the unacceptability of nuclear weapons in Al Qaeda’s hands, he said, should consider Iran an equal threat.