Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned Monday that Iran is racing toward nuclear weapons capability, though he said it has yet to pass the “red line” he set down during his United Nations speech in 2012.
“Iran is continuing with its nuclear program. It hasn’t yet crossed the red line I presented at the UN, but it’s systematically approaching it and can’t be allowed to cross it,” the prime minister said.
Netanyahu’s comments about Iran came in contrast to those of Maj. Gen. (res.) Amos Yadlin, a retired head of IDF Military Intelligence, who last week said Iran had essentially crossed the “red line” set by Israel regarding its nuclear activity.
Speaking at a security conference in Tel Aviv, Yadlin said that “for all intents and purposes, Iran has crossed Israel’s red line… In the summer, Iran will be a month or two away from deciding about a bomb.”
After his speech at the UN, Netanyahu clarified that Iran’s enrichment activities must stop before they produce enough 20%-enriched uranium for a single bomb, some 240 kilograms (529 lb.).
The possibility of an Israeli strike on Iran gained additional traction last week, when US Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel and Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon announced in Tel Aviv an unprecedented US sale of advanced military equipment to Israel, including radar systems, missiles, refueling planes and V-22 planes, which would greatly increase the IAF’s capacity to carry out a long-range attack.
On Monday, speaking at his Likud-Beytenu faction’s weekly meeting, Netanyahu also addressed the recent escalation in the country’s south, stating that “Israel will respond swiftly if the rocket fire from the Gaza Strip continues.”
As of Sunday night, when yet another rocket was fired, a total of 19 rockets had fallen in Israeli territory in the five months since the end of Pillar of Defense, the IDF’s November operation aimed at curbing rocket fire at the south.
Gavriel Fiske contributed to this article.