Netanyahu: People 'are trying to draw me into the American election'
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned Sunday that the United States must establish a clear "red line" that Tehran cannot cross with its nuclear program, if it wants to avoid war.
"I think the issue is how to prevent Iran from completing its nuclear weapons program. They're moving very rapidly to completing the enrichment of the uranium that they need to produce a nuclear bomb. In six months or so, they will be 90 percent of the way there," Netanyahu said on CNN's "State of the Union."
"I think it's important to place a red line before Iran, and I think that actually reduces the chance of a military conflict because, if they know there's a point, a stage in the enrichment or other nuclear activities that they cannot cross because they're face consequences, I think they'll actually not cross it," Netanyahu told CNN's Candy Crowley.
Netanyahu's comments on "State of the Union" followed news last week that President Barack Obama rejected the prime minister's call to spell out a "red line" that Iran could not cross.
According to The New York Times, during an hour-long telephone call between the two leaders, Obama did not embrace Netanyahu's proposal to make the size of Iran's stockpile of close-to-bomb-grade uranium the threshold for a military strike.
Netanyahu has shown growing impatience with what he says is a lack of clarity by the Obama administration on articulating so-called "red lines" over Iran's nuclear ambitions.
The administration has resisted pressure to take that step.
U.S. intelligence officials have said they do not believe Iran has decided to develop a nuclear weapon, even as evidence continues to mount that the country is improving its ability to do so.
Iran says its intentions are peaceful, and that its program is for nuclear energy.
Far from establishing a threshold for military action, the closest White House spokesman Jay Carney would go last week was to repeat the commonly-used phrase "the president is committed to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon."
Atomic enrichment in and of itself is not a red line, a U.S. official told CNN following the telephone call between Obama and Netanyahu.
But Israel feels a sense of urgency, as negotiations aimed at curbing Iran's nuclear ambitions have failed to produce an agreement and sanctions have fallen short of their intended effect.
Iranian leaders antagonize Israel.
Concerns in Washington that Israel could launch a pre-emptive strike on Iran's nuclear facilities prompted a wave of visits this summer to Israel by several top Obama administration officials.
The issue has taken on a decidedly political tone with Netanyahu's call coming at the height of the presidential election season.
The prime minister told CNN that he knew people "are trying to draw me into the American election, and I'm not going to do that."
"But I will say that we value, we cherish the bipartisan support for Israel in the United States, and we're supported by Democrats and Republicans alike," he said.
"This is not an electoral issue. It is not based on any electoral consideration. I think that there's a common interest of all Americans, of all political persuasions, to stop Iran. This is a regime that is giving vent to the worst impulses that you see right now in the Middle East."