New Iran centrifuges could shorten path to atomic bomb: Netanyahu

JERUSALEM Mon Feb 11, 2013 4:02pm EST

1 of 2. Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu address the Conference Of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations in Jerusalem February 11, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Baz Ratner

JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Monday that new centrifuges Iran was installing for its uranium enrichment program could cut by a third the time needed to create a nuclear bomb.

As Iran and world powers prepare to resume talks aimed at easing a dispute that has raised fears of a new Middle East war, Tehran announced late last month it planned to install the new machines at its main enrichment plant.

The move underlined Iran's defiance of international demands to scale back the uranium enrichment which Tehran says is for civilian purposes but which could also potentially be used to make material for atomic bombs.

Netanyahu touched on the subject in an address to American Jewish leaders and his words came ahead of a planned visit to Israel next month by President Barack Obama.

"Iran's ... nuclear weapons program continues unabated ... I drew a line at the U.N. last time I was there," Netanyahu said. "They haven't crossed that line but what they are doing is to shorten the time that it will take them to cross that line and the way they are (doing it) is by putting in new, faster centrifuges that cut the time by one third."

In a speech to the U.N. General Assembly in September, Netanyahu gave a rough deadline of summer 2013 as the date by which Iran could have enough highly enriched material to produce a single nuclear bomb.

He said on Monday that world powers must put more pressure on Tehran "for the interests of peace and security".

"You have to upgrade the sanctions and they have to know that if the sanctions and diplomacy fail, they will face a credible military threat. That's essential. Nothing else will do the job, and it's getting closer," he said.

Diplomats believe, however, that Iran may have resumed converting small amounts of its higher-grade enriched uranium into reactor fuel thereby slowing a growth in stockpiles that could be used to make weapons.

The White House announced last Tuesday that Obama planned to visit Israel, the West Bank and Jordan this spring. It gave no exact dates for the trip, Obama's first to Israel since taking office.

Netanyahu, who was last week nominated to form a new government after January 22 elections that his rightist Likud party won, has said Iran would top his administration's agenda. He has five more weeks to complete forming his new coalition.

Israel's Channel 10 television cited unnamed sources in Washington last week saying Obama's visit to Israel would start on March 20, by when Netanyahu's new government should be in place.

Israeli political commentators have speculated that Obama had opted to visit Israel before the summer deadline that Netanyahu laid down at the United Nations to caution him against any go-it-alone attack against Iran's nuclear facilities.

(Writing by Ori Lewis; Editing by Pravin Char)

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Comments (35)
crittertron wrote:
Or they could make Iran’s power plan at least as efficient as those built 40 years ago in the US… I’m so sick of the natural assumption that Iran is building weapons, despite all lack of ANY proof. Netanyahu is a war monger.

Feb 11, 2013 4:04pm EST  --  Report as abuse
CptWS wrote:
Israel just hates the fact Iran would have what Israel already has dozens, if not hundreds of.

Its acting like the kid in the school yard with the new Nike’ which he got pre-release because his daddy works for the company, so he walks around like hes the ‘big dog’. Couple weeks before the release day he starts sulking as his Nike’ are no longer exclusively his to flaunt.

Talk about a pathetic display to remain regional ‘big dog’; Iran with a hundred nukes is no more of a threat than Russia with x thousand ever was, since Russia using one would have resulted in multiple heading back in their direction…ie; no victory, just mutual destruction.

Feb 11, 2013 4:29pm EST  --  Report as abuse
stambo2001 wrote:
Could cut the time by a third? Have they not been saying Iran was ‘just months or weeks away’ from the bomb….for the last 10 years?

Feb 11, 2013 5:43pm EST  --  Report as abuse
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