September 28th, 2012
06:26 AM ET

Analysis: Israel's red line not in line with U.S. view

By Elise Labott

With growing impatience over what he sees as foot-dragging by the Obama administration to explain the so-called "red line" that Iran cannot cross if it wants to avoid war, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made his case to the world for where to draw the line.

The prime minister thanked President Obama for his speech before the United Nations two days earlier in which he warned he would do what it takes to prevent Iran from going nuclear. The attempt to show solidarity with the U.S. leader belied a fundamental argument, becoming ever more public, over when military action would be required to take out the nuclear program.

Diagrams in hand during his speech to the U.N. General Assembly, Netanyahu drew an actual red line through the level at which Iran's ability to build nuclear weapons would be irreversible. By next spring or summer, he said, Iran will have enriched enough uranium to build a nuclear weapon and a "clear red line" must be drawn to make clear to Iran it must halt its uranium enrichment before then.

Netanyahu was referring to Iran's enrichment of uranium to 20% purity, a level it says is required for medical isotopes but which also brings it close to bomb-fuel grade. Iran maintains it is not trying to develop nuclear weapons and insists the uranium enrichment program is meant for peaceful purposes.

Equating the threat posed by a nuclear armed Iran to a nuclear-armed al Qaeda, Netanyahu urged the world to act.

Israeli and U.S. officials have said the two countries are in 100% agreement of the pace and scope of the development of the Iranian effort.

The debate between the United States and Israel centers on a decision by Iran to acquire a nuclear bomb versus its "breakout capacity" to do so.

Netanyahu said Thursday that Iran's enrichment program should be the barometer for the point of no return because with Iran moving much of its nuclear work underground, the enrichment facilities are the only visible nuclear installations that can be credibly targeted.

Israel worries that Iran's nuclear development will progress past a point where the Israelis can stop Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.

The United States, with its superior military capabilities, has greater latitude to decide how far is too far. The Obama administration has not laid out the U.S. threshold and offered a "we'll know it when we see it" explanation of the "so-called breakout move."

Actually, President Obama has laid out a red line of sorts, saying a decision by Iran to go nuclear and a move to assemble a bomb would prompt him to act. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said last month the United States had no intelligence to indicate a decision by Iran to go after the bomb. But Netanyahu, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak and others argue Iran can continue to develop the expertise and technology needed to make a bomb and gain this breakout capacity without having made an official "decision."

In this scenario, Israel's greatest fear is Iran will have all its ducks in a row and can quickly assemble a nuclear weapon after a decision is made. Panetta said once Iran has made the decision to build a bomb; the United States believes it would take Iran "about a year" to complete the required work to finish it.

Netanyahu argued that final stage could take as little as "a few months, possibly a few weeks."

But he said, "I believe that faced with a clear red line, Iran will back down."

This week Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadenijad told reporters he did not rule out a negotiated settlement in talks with the United States, Britain, France, China, Russia and Germany.

The world powers known as the P5 plus 1 met Thursday night to discuss how to move forward on their two-track policy of seeking talks with Iran while turning up the pressure on the Iranian regime with sanctions in the face of continued nuclear antics

When a senior administration official briefed reporters after the meeting, it was clear the only progress the group could cite was that it was unified in its belief that a nuclear-armed Iran was not acceptable.

That's little comfort for Netanyahu, who soon will have to make some tough decisions as to whether the red line he so artfully drew is close to being crossed.

soundoff (278 Responses)
  1. saeed

    whats needed is russia to drop a 5 megaton nuke on ireland britain australia new zealand usa canada norway sweden denmark and nuke the jews also reduce all of them to dust.

    October 2, 2012 at 7:43 pm | Reply
    • Kayla823

      I would like to see russia do anything with all the krocodil in the systems....that is the ones who aren't dead or have parts of their bodies decaying from the inside out. Russia is incapable of doing anything thanks to afgahnastan feeding the heroin making them all mindless zombies.

      October 2, 2012 at 11:00 pm | Reply
    • John

      Nukes on Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Syria, and Mohammad would be sufficient.

      October 3, 2012 at 1:13 pm | Reply
    • Doron Regev

      But then the Arabs and Muslims will have no one to fight and will start killing each other at an even faster pae than now. The human race will go extinct within months. You are an ignorant, hateful ,retard!

      October 3, 2012 at 2:09 pm | Reply
  2. GlueBall

    . . . Let it be show time. All-talk is so boring.

    October 2, 2012 at 12:58 am | Reply
  3. Kayla823

    Iran should not be able to have nuclear weapons. There will be a war and it will probably be an ugly one. Once they have nuclear weapons they will use them, plain and simple. Its not a matter of which country is better than the other one, its a matter of avoiding a possible World War 3.

    October 1, 2012 at 10:50 pm | Reply
  4. Scott Lay

    Just kick some ass and quit whining.

    October 1, 2012 at 12:57 am | Reply
    • Ryan Snipes

      That is very easy for you to say. We as a country do not need another war anywhere in the world. I am not in favor of Iran having nuclear weapons neither Israel's plan to drag us into another war since at the end of the day if Israel strikes Iran, They will retaliate and it is our soldiers who will be sent to fight.

      October 1, 2012 at 7:28 pm | Reply
  5. Bribarian

    Where's the red line for israel's nuclear weapons?

    September 30, 2012 at 11:15 pm | Reply
    • TORO27

      Your comparison is ridiculous, Israel is a modern country with Moral codes and liberal thinking. Iran is a Fundamental country that funds terror organizations.

      October 1, 2012 at 6:56 am | Reply
      • Reiner

        Are you serious? Do you deny the palestinian genoside conducted by Israel?
        And can you give me any other example of mischief conducted by Iran than just denying US control over the country back in the 50's?
        You can believe the words of anyone you want, but when you look to facts in history and even the present, you'll see that the only two countries crazy and immorally enough to use a nuclear bomb are the US and Israel. Not Iraq, not Iran, not Russia, not China, but Israel(Palestinian genocide) and the US(Hiroshima & Nagasaski)

        And yes I'm a US citizen, I'm just lucky enough to be awakened of the lie that we are the good countries.

        October 1, 2012 at 11:12 am |
      • Sam86

        hold on so Israel is soo innocent here? Israel has attacked neighbors with 5 wars in the last 50 years, and Iran has not attacked a country in the last 200 years, who is the terror group here again? Iran is a modern country, if you havnt been there to know how Iran really is then shut the f* up, this isnt like Iraq or Afghanistan, this country will retaliate and their will with out US Israel would get crushed with a war in Iran, years and years of missiles just dropping on their small land

        October 1, 2012 at 2:00 pm |
    • max3333444555


      Ive seen people post similar things without bothering to study the past 35 years.

      iran supported islamic jihad who killed 242 marines in beirut 82
      iran mined the persian gulf trying to limit the flow of oil
      iran has supported attacks against our troops in iraq

      yup. they havent done anything warlike since the 50s....

      October 2, 2012 at 1:47 pm | Reply
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