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Netanyahu tells US public: Iran months away from n-bomb

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned on Sunday that Iran was just six to seven months away from being able to build a nuclear bomb

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned on Sunday that Iran was just six to seven months away from being able to build a nuclear bomb,adding urgency to his demand that US President Barack Obama set a clear red line for Tehran in what could deepen the worst US-Israel rift in decades.

Taking to the television airwaves to make his case directly to the American public,Netanyahu said that by mid-2013 Iran would be 90 per cent of the way toward enough enriched uranium for a weapon. He again urged the US to spell out limits that Tehran must not cross if it is to avoid military action — something Obama has refused to do.

“You have to place that red line before them now,before it’s too late,” Netanyahu said on NBC’s Meet the Press programme,adding that such a US move could reduce the chances of having to attack Iran’s nuclear sites.

The unusually public dispute between close allies — coupled with Obama’s decision not to meet with Netanyahu later this month — has exposed a gaping US-Israeli divide and stepped up pressure on the US leader in the final stretch of a tight presidential election campaign.

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Senior US officials say Iran has yet to decide on a nuclear breakout — a final rush to assemble components for a bomb — and they express high confidence that it is still at least a year away from the capacity to build one if it wanted to. This contrasts with Netanyahu’s timetable,although the Israeli leader stopped short of saying Iran had decided to manufacture a weapon.

Netanyahu showed no signs of backing down on Sunday and equated the danger of a nuclear-armed Iran with the Islamist fury that fueled attacks on U.S. embassies across the Muslim world last week and shocked many Americans. “It’s the same fanaticism that you see storming your embassies today. You want these fanatics to have nuclear weapons?” Netanyahu asked in the NBC interview.

First published on: 17-09-2012 at 12:56:42 am
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