Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ramped up on Tuesday threats to attack Iran, saying if world powers refused to set a red line for Tehran's nuclear program, they could not demand that Israel hold its fire.
"The world tells Israel 'wait, there's still time'. And I say, 'Wait for what? Wait until when?' Those in the international community who refuse to put red lines before Iran don't have a moral right to place a red light before Israel," Netanyahu, speaking in English, told reporters in a press conference with Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov.
- US on Iran: There is still time for diplomacy
"Now if Iran knows that there is no red line. If Iran knows that there is no deadline, what will it do? Exactly what it's doing. It's continuing, without any interference, towards obtaining nuclear weapons capability and from there, nuclear bombs," he said.
In an interview with Bloomberg Radio on Sunday, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said that the US is "not setting deadlines" for Iran and still considers negotiations as "by far the best approach" to prevent the Islamic Republic from developing nuclear weapons.
Meanwhile, AP reported that the UN atomic agency has received new intelligence that Iran has moved further toward the ability to build a nuclear weapon by advancing its work on calculating the destructive power of an atomic warhead.
Iran's Ahmadinejad in Natantz (Photo: EPA)
Diplomats told AP the information comes from Israel, the United States and at least two other Western countries and concludes that the work was done sometime within the past three years. The time-frame is significant because if the International Atomic Energy Agency decides that the intelligence is credible, it would strengthen its concerns that Iran has continued weapons work into the recent past and may be continuing to do so.
Because such work is done through computer modeling and must be accompanied by physical tests of the components that go into a nuclear weapon, it would also support IAEA fears outlined in detail in November that Tehran is carrying out weapons research on multiple fronts.
"You want to have a theoretical understanding of the working of a nuclear weapon that is then related to the experiments you do on the various components," said David Albright, whose Washington-based Institute for Science and International Security is a frequent go-to source on Iran for Congress and other US government branches. "The two go hand-in-hand."
Netanyahu and Bulgarian PM Borisov (Photo: Amos Ben Gershom, GPO)
Such computer mock-ups typically assess how high explosives compress fissile warhead material, setting off the chain reaction that results in a nuclear explosion. The yield is normally calculated in kilotons.
Ali Asghar Soltanieh, Iran's chief IAEA delegate, cut short a telephone request for comment, saying he could not talk because he was in a meeting. In Tehran, meanwhile, Foreign Ministry spokesman Rahmin Mehmanparast told reporters that Iran will start answering the agency's "questions and concerns" only when "our rights and security issues" are recognized.
IAEA spokeswoman Gill Tudor said the agency would not comment. But four of six diplomats who spoke to the AP on the issue said an oblique passage in the IAEA's August Iran report saying "the agency has obtained more information which further corroborates" its suspicions alludes to the new intelligence.
Two of them said the new information builds on what the agency previously knew, not only because the research was apparently performed past 2009 but also because it reflects that Iran has allegedly moved closer to the overall ability to develop a nuclear weapon.
Also Tuesday, Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast labeled Israeli officials' statements on Iran's nuclear program as "meaningless." Speaking at a press conference in Tehran he said that "the Zionist regime is not in a position to comment on our country's peaceful nuclear program."
He was referring to comments made by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu earlier this week on the need to set Iran a red line.
Reuters and Dudi Cohen contributed to this report
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