The world must immediately draw a clear "red line" to prevent Iran from completing a nuclear weapon, which could happen as soon as next summer, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned today in an address before the United Nations.
"To be credible a red line must be drawn first and foremost in one vital part of their program, on Iran's efforts to enrich uranium," said Netanyahu, who considers a nuclear Iran a threat to his country as well as to the entire Mideast region.
The premier said it was already getting "very late" to stop Iran, a regime that he said backs terrorist organizations and attacks around the globe.
Using a magic marker to literally draw a red line on a diagram of a bomb, Netanyahu said Iran was 70 percent of the way towards developing a bomb. He said the international community must stop Iran before it could complete another 20 percent, a process of creating medium enriched uranium.
The final 10 percent could be completed in a few short weeks, he said. Once the uranium enrichment was completed, he said, Iran could easily assemble the necessary fuse in a secret location no bigger than a classroom. He said that location would be difficult to find in a country that is half the size of Europe.
"Iran is 70 percent of the way there and ... well into the second stage. By next summer, at current enrichment rates, they will have finished the medium enrichment and move on to the final stage," Netanyahu said. "From there it is only a few more weeks before they have enriched enough for a bomb."
The international community, he said, knows where to find the large enrichment centers, and Iran cannot be given enough time to assemble the bomb in secret.
Netanyahu linked the Iran regime to the radical Islamists behind Al Qaeda, Hezbollah, and the recent attacks on an American embassy in Libya that killed Ambassador Chris Stevens.
"Some say a nuclear armed Iran would stabilize the Middle East. Yeah right. That's like a saying a nuclear armed Al Qaeda would usher in world peace," he said.
The prime minister lauded President Obama for targeting Iran's nuclear program in his own address before the U.N. on Tuesday. The two men have differed about where such a red line should be drawn. The U.S. has maintained that it will not allow Iran to build a nuclear weapon.
Netanyahu compared the situation to Europe's unwillingness to confront Germany's Hitler in his early aggressive moves. "Those who opposed that fanaticism waited too long to act," he said.
After citing what he said were terror attacks linked to the Iranian regime, the Israeli prime minister said, "Given this record of Iranian aggression without nuclear weapons, just imagine Iran with nuclear weapons... Who would be safe anywhere?"
Obama was criticized for not meeting with Netanyahu this week, but it was revealed today that the two leaders will speak on the phone following a meeting between the prime minister and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
Netanyahu maintains that international diplomatic efforts and economic sanctions have failed to keep Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons.
Netanyahu did not specifically mention a military strike on Iran, but for months he has hinted that Israel would take such action if other efforts failed to stop Iran.
On Wednesday, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad addressed the U.N., slamming the "continued threat by the uncivilized Zionists to resort to military action against our great nation."
Prior to Netanyahu's speech, Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas said Israeli claims on Jerusalem amounted to "ethnic cleansing against the Palestinian people." Despite the serious charge leveled against Israel, he also signaled he was ready to return to negotiating with Israel.
After Palestinian attempts to gain full U.N. membership last year failed in the Security Council, Abbas is seeking observer status.
Netanyahu said he supported a two-state solution but condemned Abbas for his attacks from the podium.
"We won't solve our conflict with libelous speeches at the U.N.," he said.