Friday, March 2, 2012

Netanyahu warns international community of Iran ‘trap’

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with his Canadian counterpart, Stephen Harper, in Ottawa Friday. (photo credit: Ben Gershom/GPO/Flash90)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with his Canadian counterpart, Stephen Harper, in Ottawa Friday. (photo credit: Ben Gershom/GPO/Flash90)

March 2, 2012, 11:45 pm

TTAWA, Ontario (AP) — Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Friday the international community should not fall into the “trap” of renewed nuclear talks with Iran, adding that he would not set any “red lines” that would trigger military action.
At a news conference with Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper in Ottawa, Netanyahu also urged the international community to impose demands on Iran, including the dismantling of a key uranium enrichment facility and the shipment of all enriched uranium out of the Islamic Republic.
Netanyahu said Iran could enter nuclear talks to try to ease mounting pressure from tough new international sanctions, but he asserted this would be a tactic to buy time.
“It could pursue or exploit the talks as they have done in the past to deceive and to delay so that they can continue to advance their nuclear program and get to the nuclear finish line by running the clock,” Netanyahu said. “I think the international community should not fall into this trap.”
The international community should make its demands on Iran clear, he added: Dismantle the underground nuclear facility in Qom, stop the enrichment of uranium — a key element of bombmaking — and get all enriched uranium out of Iran.
“And when I say all the material, I mean all the material,” he said.
The Israeli prime minister spoke just days ahead of a crucial White House meeting where he and US President Barack Obama are expected to discuss how the suspect Iranian nuclear program should be handled.
Tehran announced months ago that it was stepping up enrichment at its Fordo site near the holy city of Qom to 20 percent. Anything above that level of enrichment would be considered indisputable evidence that Tehran was moving to weapons-grade operations.
Although Israel says it hasn’t decided whether to attack Iranian nuclear facilities, it has signaled readiness to do so. Some senior Israeli officials say Israel would have to act by summer in order to get at operations that Iran is moving deep underground to heavily fortified bunkers.
US officials, wary that an Israeli strike could drive up oil prices and entangle the US in a new Mideast military confrontation during this year’s presidential election season, want to give diplomacy and sanctions more time to work. The US, with its superior firepower, would have longer than Israel to attack.
Israeli leaders have strongly hinted that they want to hear clearer terms from Obama on what the United States would do if Iran were to cross the threshold from nuclear energy to nuclear weapons.
Netanyahu, apparently acknowledging US resistance to the Israeli demand, said at the news conference in Ottawa that “I have not drawn red lines, and I will not draw red lines for the US.”
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.