US President Barack Obama said there’s “not a lot of daylight” between the American and Israeli positions on Iran’s nuclear program, and in terms of timeline the sides are saying the same thing: Iran could build a nuclear weapon in a year, if it chose to do so. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in his comments to reporters during Obama’s visit to Israel, said, “If Iran decides to go for a nuclear weapon, that is to actually manufacture the weapon, then it will take them about a year. I think that’s correct.”
The one-year timeline is different from Netanyahu’s warning last year that Iran would reach a “red line” in their nuclear program by this summer. The Israeli leader clarified in his comments on Wednesday that he believes that Iran’s nuclear fuel enrichment process—which was the focus of his red line concern—is a separate issue from the time it takes to build a bomb.
“To make a weapon you need two things. You need enriched uranium of a critical amount and you need a weapon… Iran, right now, is enriching uranium. It’s pursuing it. It hasn’t yet reached the red line that I had described in my speech at the UN. They’re getting closer though,” Netanyahu was quoted by his office as saying. “The question of manufacturing the weapon is a different thing.”
The reason for Netanyahu’s dire red line warning last year is that he believes “Iran gets to an immunity zone when they get through the enrichment process… Whatever time is left, there’s not a lot of time. And every day that passes diminishes it.”
As for the Israel and American positions on Iran, Netanyahu said they “do have a common assessment on these schedules, on intelligence. We share that intelligence and we don’t have any argument about it. I think it’s important to state that clearly.”
Obama, for his part, was clear that the US is currently pursuing diplomacy on the Iranian nuclear issue, but is prepared to do more if necessary.
“We do have to test the proposition that this can be resolved diplomatically, and if it can’t, then I’ve repeated to Bibi [Netanyahu] what I’ve said publicly, and that is that we will leave all options on the table in resolving it,” Obama was quoted by the Israeli Press Office as saying.
Earlier in the press conference with Netanyahu, Obama also noted that “we do not have a policy of containment when it comes to a nuclear Iran. Our policy is to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon.”
Netanyahu took the time to highlight Obama’s support for Israel’s self-defense on the Iranian issue. “I’m absolutely convinced that the President is determined to prevent Iran from getting nuclear weapons. I appreciate that… And I appreciate the fact that the President has reaffirmed, more than any other President, Israel’s right and duty to defend itself by itself against any threat.”
(By Joshua Spurlock, www.themideastupdate.com, March 20, 2013)