Turtle Bay

Bibi and the bomb chart

For Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu it wasn’t enough just to reiterate an impassioned call for the United States and other U.N. governments to impose a red line on Iran’s nuclear program. He literally drew it — right before the assembled world leaders — on a crude bomb chart that looked like it came directly ...

623618_152848720.jpg

For Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu it wasn’t enough just to reiterate an impassioned call for the United States and other U.N. governments to impose a red line on Iran’s nuclear program.

He literally drew it — right before the assembled world leaders — on a crude bomb chart that looked like it came directly out Wile E. Coyote‘s comic book arsenal.

In a speech that briefly glossed over the Middle East process, Netanyahu made his most detailed and impassioned case for confronting Iran, clarifying that the threshold for a military strike should be set at the point Iran produces enough highly enriched uranium to produce a nuclear weapon.

"Nothing could imperil our future more than the arming of Iran with nuclear weapons," Netanyahu told the gathering of foreign leaders. "At this late hour, the only way to peacefully prevent Iran from getting an atomic bomb is by placing a clear red line on Iran’s nuclear weapons programs.

"Red lines don’t lead to war; red lines prevent war," he added. "I believe faced with clear red line Iran will back down."

The Israeli prime minister has been pressing President Barack Obama for weeks to specify a precise stage in Iran’s enrichment of uranium that would trigger a military reaction. Obama has repeatedly said that the United States would not permit Iran to possess nuclear weapons, but he has refused to commit to a specific red line in order to preserve response flexibility.

In his speech to the U.N. General Assembly on Tuesday, Obama said that while it remains committed to resolving the nuclear dispute with Iran "through diplomacy and we believe that there is still time and space to do so. But that time is not unlimited."

"Make no mistake: A nuclear-armed Iran is not a challenge that can be contained." Obama said. "It would threaten the elimination of Israel, the security of Gulf nations, and the stability of the global economy. It risks triggering a nuclear arms race in the region, and the unraveling of the Non-Proliferation Treaty."

Netanyahu thanked Obama for his statement acknowledging an Iranian nuclear weapons program could not be contained, and he said he recognized that international sanctions were inflicting serious pain on the regime.

But he said that more than a decade of sanctions and diplomacy have failed to halt Iran’s nuclear ambitions, and that it would be irresponsible to place one’s faith in cautious estimates from Western intelligence agencies that there is sufficient time to stop the Iranians from acquiring the bomb. "Our intelligence agents are not fool-proof," he said.

Netanyahu, who spoke shortly after Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, devoted little attention to the peace process, simply saying the "libelous speeches" or "unilateral declarations of statehood" before the U.N. General Assembly would not further the cause of peace.

The Palestinian leader was the clear favorite in the General Assembly, receiving a standing ovation for a speech that denounced a wave of anti-Palestinian attacks by Jewish settlers, and claimed that Israeli policies were undermining the ability of the Palestinian National Authority to function — threatening its ultimate collapse.

But his bid for international recognition of statehood was scaled back from a year ago.

"We will continue our efforts to obtain full membership for Palestine at the United Nations," he said. But for now, he said his government has "begun intensive consultations with various regional organizations and member states aimed at having

the General Assembly adopt a resolution considering the State of Palestine as a non-member state of the United Nations during this session."

"We do not seek to delegitimize an existing state — that is Israel; but rather

to assert the state that must be realized — that is Palestine."

Follow me on Twitter @columlynch

A decade of Global Thinkers

A decade of Global Thinkers

The past year's 100 most influential thinkers and doers Read Now

Trending Now Sponsored Links by Taboola

By Taboola

More from Foreign Policy

By Taboola