"Iran remains the number one threat. I set a red line (for its nuclear program), and as of now Iran has yet to cross it," Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Thursday.
Speaking at the annul meeting in the Foreign Ministry for Israel's ambassadors overseas, the PM said Israel remains determined to prevent Tehran from obtaining nuclear weapons.
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Netanyahu told the diplomats he expects the instability in the Middle East to continue in the short term, but claimed a positive change was possible in the long run if Iran is prevented from acquiring nuclear weapons.
PM explains bomb diagram at UN (Archive photo: Reuters)
During a speech at the UN in September, the prime minister held up a cartoon-like drawing of a bomb with a fuse and literally drew a red line just below a label reading "final stage" to a bomb, in which Iran was 90% along the path of having sufficient weapons-grade material.
Experts put that at the point that Iran has amassed enough uranium, purified to a level of 20%, that could quickly be enriched further and be used to produce an atomic bomb.
Netanyahu told the United Nations he believes that faced with a clear red line, Iran will back down in a crisis that has sent jitters across the region and in financial markets.
"And this will give more time for sanctions and diplomacy to convince Iran to dismantle its nuclear weapons program altogether," he added.
Speaking to the Israeli ambassadors Thursday, Netanyahu also addressed the Palestinian issue, saying Hamas could take control of the Palestinian Authority "any day," and therefore "concrete security arrangements" must be included in any peace agreement, as well as recognition of Israel as the state of the Jewish nation, an end to the "right of return" claim and a sincere declaration on the end of the conflict.
Reuters contributed to the report