Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu yesterday issued a call to action to world powers to step up and issue an ultimatum to stop Iran’s purported nuclear weapons program during a speech at the United Nations. In his 30-minute speech, Netanyahu charged that Iran has been enriching uranium with the intent to build nuclear weapons and that it will have enough fissile material to fashion a nuclear weapon by next summer at the latest.
But it was the Prime Minister’s old school multimedia presentation that utilized a paper placard with a black and white image of a bomb that resonated most. “If these are the facts, and they are, where should a line be drawn?” said Netanyahu as he used a red marker to draw a line on the cartoonish image in order to illustrate Iran’s progress on developing nuclear weapons. The prime minister then implored the world to unite to stop Israel’s Middle East rival before Iranian scientists actually construct a nuclear weapon.
Netanyahu stopped short of suggesting direct military against Iran, although Israeli officials have implied before that any and all options to protect Israel are on the table. For its part, Iran has long maintained that its fledgling nuclear program is focused exclusively on civilian purposes like nuclear power generation, although the U.S. and other countries have leveraged sanctions against Iran over the issue.
After the speech, the White House did not alter its position - a senior official’s only response was that the U.S. had “already laid out our policy” and that U.S. experts were closely monitoring Iran’s nuclear program. After all the media attention garnered by Netanyahu’s stunt, the Internet will likely churn out numerous bomb memes as world leaders continue to engage in a battle that has so far only consisted of words and sanctions.
How serious is Iran’s nuclear program? Was Netanyahu’s speech saber rattling or a warning of conflicts to come?
Paul Richter, reporter from the Los Angeles Times, joining us from New York City