Military action if Iran sanctions fail: Netanyahu

WASHINGTON Thu Mar 17, 2011 10:04pm EDT

Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem March 13, 2011. REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun

Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem March 13, 2011.

Credit: Reuters/Ronen Zvulun

Related Topics

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Wednesday the world must make clear that Iran would face "credible military action" if sanctions do not shut down Tehran's disputed nuclear program.

Netanyahu, in an interview on CNN, said it was clear Iran was pursing its nuclear ambitions despite international sanctions and was getting a lot closer to obtaining nuclear arms.

"They have enriched enough material now almost for three nuclear bombs," he said. "They still have to re-enrich it again but that is what they are doing.

"The only thing that will work is if Iran knew that if sanctions fail there will be a credible military option."

Asked what would constitute a credible military action, Netanyahu said: "It means action that will knock out their nuclear facility."

The U.N. Security Council has imposed sanctions on Tehran for refusing to freeze its uranium enrichment program, which Western powers suspect is aimed at producing a nuclear weapon.

Iran denies Israeli and Western allegations that it is enriching uranium to produce atomic arms and maintains that its program is for peaceful energy needs.

Netanyahu said if military action was taken, he would prefer that it be lead by the United States.

He said a nuclear-armed Iran would not be just a concern for Israel because it would pose the risk of proliferation.

"This is not just our problem. This is the problem of Europe, and the United States," he said.

In a wide-ranging interview, Netanyahu also said he was not surprised that Saudi Arabia had dispatched forces to Bahrain after weeks of pro-democracy protests in the Gulf Arab island state.

"I think they are concerned with a possible Iranian takeover of Bahrain, which would put Iran effectively within spitting distance of the Arabian Peninsula," Netanyahu said of Saudi Arabia.

"Saudi Arabia is working to protect its own interests. But there is a very large global interest in making sure the world's oil wells, that the largest reserves of the world's oil supply do not fall into Iranian or pro-Iranian hands," he said.

Asked about the pro-democracy protests sweeping the Arab world, Netanyahu said the Middle East would have "a brilliant future" with real democratic change.

However, he said that if Iran remains immune to change "and meddles in other places and transforms them into so-called Islamist republics... I would say that is the worst nightmare."

(Reporting by JoAnne Allen; Editing by Bill "Trott)

FILED UNDER:
We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see http://blogs.reuters.com/fulldisclosure/2010/09/27/toward-a-more-thoughtful-conversation-on-stories/
Comments (4)
Hasn’t the U.S. done enough to help the world to interfere in another war. I backup Israel all the way but why can’t another nation take the lead!

Mar 17, 2011 10:32pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
ajrolaf wrote:
I think he should get rid of his own nukes. What a hipocrisy….

Mar 18, 2011 1:33am EDT  --  Report as abuse
Dhirajkunar wrote:
This crow will shout from the rooftops all the time. He does not care if American lives will have to be paid in the event of a war. Time will come when his nuclear warhead will come into scrutiny. Anyway, do you care if a crow shouts in your neighborhood ?

Mar 18, 2011 4:19am EDT  --  Report as abuse
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.