By Richard Simon, Los Angeles Times –
WASHINGTON — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday renewed his campaign to get President Barack Obama to take a harder line toward Iran over its nuclear program.
Netanyahu, appearing on Sunday TV news shows in the midst of a heated presidential campaign, again urged Obama to draw a “red line” over which Iran should not cross.
“This is a matter of urgency,” he said on CNN’s “State of the Union,” calling for the kind of action that he said President John F. Kennedy took with the Soviet Union during the Cuban missile crisis.
“President Obama has said that he is determined to prevent Iran from getting nuclear weapons,” the Israeli leader said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “If you’re determined to prevent Iran from getting nuclear weapons, it means you’ll act before they get nuclear weapons.”
The administration, which along with other nations is using economic sanctions in an effort to pressure Iran to curb its nuclear program, has resisted setting a line that Iran may not cross.
“We are committed, and President Obama is committed, to preventing Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon,” Susan Rice, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, said on “Meet the Press.”
Although Netanyahu wants the U.S. to announce it will stop Iran’s nuclear program at some specific point before Tehran obtains the ability to make a bomb, the Obama administration has said simply that it will not allow Iran to have a bomb.
Obama is committed to exhausting diplomatic and economic means “while there is still time,” Rice said, assuring that the administration has taken “no option off the table,” including military action.
Iran says the goals of its nuclear program are peaceful, but the U.S., Israel and many other nations fear that it aims to develop weapons. Netanyahu, increasingly worried about the progress of the nuclear program, said Sunday that it was important to act “before it’s too late.”
On “Meet the Press,” host David Gregory asked Netanyahu, “As a prime minister of Israel, has Iran crossed your red line?” Netanyahu replied that Iran was in a “red zone.”
“They’re moving very rapidly to completing the enrichment of the uranium that they need to produce a nuclear bomb,” he said. “In six months or so, they will be 90 percent of the way there.”
Netanyahu said that setting a red line now would reduce the chances for military action.
Netanyahu last week assailed the Obama administration for refusing to issue a more specific ultimatum to Iran, saying that those who refuse to do so “don’t have a moral right to place a red light before Israel,” a reference to U.S. pressure on Israel not to conduct a military strike against the nuclear program.