By Scott Bobb, VOA
JERUSALEM -- Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has stepped up threats to attack Iran over its nuclear program, which he says is being used to develop nuclear weapons. He says if the international community is not willing to act against Iran, it should not demand that Israel hold its fire.
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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Tuesday indicated he was becoming impatient with calls by world leaders to refrain from attacking Iran until sanctions and diplomatic pressure have had an opportunity to work. "The world tells Israel wait, there is still time. And I say, wait for what? Wait until when? Those in the international community who refuse to put red lines before Iran don't have a moral right to place a red light before Israel," he said.
Netanyahu earlier said the U.S. and Israeli governments were in talks on setting a clear red line for Iran's nuclear program. He indicated if Iran stepped over this line, then its nuclear weapons facilities could be subject to a military strike.
Iran denies it is building the bomb and says its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes only. However, Western governments say the Iranian government is trying to develop at least the capacity to build and deliver nuclear weapons.
The International Atomic Energy Agency this week demanded to inspect suspected nuclear weapons facilities in Iran. Many Western governments have imposed crippling economic sanctions on Iran because of its refusal to allow U.N. inspections and foot-dragging on negotiations on its program.
On Tuesday, U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said the United States would have a little more than a year to act to stop Iran's nuclear activities if the U.S. became certain Iran had decided to build a nuclear weapon.
Panetta said in an interview with the CBS television network that the U.S. has the capability to prevent Iran from building an atomic bomb.
Hebrew University Political Science Professor Avraham Diskin says there appears to be disagreement between Israel and the United States over the timing of any military strike against Iran. But he adds this could be deceiving.
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"We cannot really know exactly who decides, who wants what, etcetera. The only thing that I am sure about is that there is a fluent exchange of information and ideas between the American administration and the government of Israel," he said.
He says it is also clear that the two governments do not want Iran to obtain nuclear weapons and are willing to use military force to prevent it.
The Israeli prime minister appeared to be responding to remarks by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton that the U.S. government would not set deadlines in the diplomatic effort with Iran.
Netanyahu said with every day that passes Iran comes closer to building a nuclear weapon. "If Iran knows that there is no red line. If Iran knows there's no deadline, what will it do? Exactly what it's doing. It's continuing without any interference towards obtaining nuclear weapons capability and from there nuclear bombs," he said.
Iran's nuclear program is likely to remain high on the agenda as world leaders prepare to meet in two weeks following the opening of the U.N. General Assembly's annual session.
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