* U.S. has urged Israel not to attack Iran but give
diplomacy more time
* Netanyahu's remarks signal growing impatience
* Israel wants stronger language from Obama, says Iran
* Iranian general: Israeli officials would be targets if
Israel attacked Iran
By Jeffrey Heller
JERUSALEM, Sept 2 Israeli Prime Minister
Benjamin Netanyahu urged world powers on Sunday to set a "clear
red line" for Tehran's atomic activities and said they had
failed to convince it of their resolve to prevent Iran from
obtaining nuclear arms.
Netanyahu's remarks suggested a growing Israeli impatience
with its main ally, the United States, and other countries that
have been pressing him to give diplomacy and sanctions more time
to work and hold off on any go-it-alone Israeli strike on Iran.
"I believe the truth must be stated: The international
community is not placing a clear red line for Iran and Iran does
not see international resolve to stop its nuclear programme,"
Netanyahu told his cabinet.
"Unless Iran sees this clear red line and this clear resolve
it will not stop moving forward with its nuclear programme, and
Iran must not have nuclear weapons," he said in broadcast
Although Netanyahu did not single out the United States or
U.S. President Barack Obama in his criticism, Israeli officials
have said they hope for stronger language from the president
about possible U.S. military action.
Obama, who has had a frosty relationship with Netanyahu, has
insisted he will not allow Iran to build atomic weapons and that
all options are on the table.
On Saturday Tzachi Hanegbi, an influential former Israeli
legislator and a Netanyahu confidant, said "the rhetoric of the
U.S. president is too vague, very amorphous" and Iran was not
taking Obama's words seriously.
In a U.S. election year, Republican candidate Mitt Romney
has also sharply criticised Obama's handling of Iran as not
being tough enough.
Tehran says it is refining uranium to fuel a planned network
of nuclear power plants so that it can export more of its oil
and gas. The United States and its allies accuse Iran of a
covert bid to develop the capability to make nuclear bombs.
Israel, believed to have the only nuclear arsenal in the
Middle East, views a nuclear-armed Iran as a threat to its
Netanyahu has said he will speak out about the dangers of
Iran in an address this month to the U.N. General Assembly in
New York. He is also expected to hold talks with Obama during
his visit, but no announcement has yet been made.
A senior Israeli official told Reuters last week Netanyahu
would seek a firm pledge of U.S. military action if Iran did not
back down on uranium enrichment. Such a promise could dissuade
Israel from attacking Iran alone, Israeli officials have said.
A United Nations report said on Thursday that Iran had more
than doubled the number of centrifuges in its fortified bunker
at Fordow since May, showing it was still expanding its nuclear
programme despite Western pressure and threat of Israeli attack.
The new machines are not yet operating, the report said.
"The report confirms what I have been saying for a long
time, international sanctions are a burden on Iran's economy but
they are not in any way delaying the advancement of Iran's
nuclear programme," Netanyahu told his cabinet, in public
remarks opening the meeting.
"The Iranians are using the talks with the world powers to
win time and to advance their nuclear programme," he said.
General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the U.S. joint chiefs of
staff, has suggested Washington would not be drawn into conflict
with Iran should Israel attack. "I don't want to be complicit if
they (Israel) choose to do it," Britain's Guardian newspaper
quoted him on Friday as saying.
Recent heightened Israeli rhetoric has stoked speculation
that Israel might attack Iran before the U.S. elections in
November, believing that Obama would give it military help and
not risk alienating pro-Israeli voters.
Israeli officials have said Israel has yet to decide, amid
divisions within its security cabinet and warnings by military
and security chiefs that a strike would have only a limited
effect in setting back Iran's nuclear programme.
An Iranian general said that if Israel were to attack Iran,
Israeli officials would be the target of retaliation, Iranian
media reported on Sunday.
"In case of Israel's military attack against Iran, the
officials of (Israel) will be among the first victims of such an
attack," Mohammad Ali Assoudi, a brigadier general in the
Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, told Iran's English-language
His broadcast remarks gave no details, but Press TV
paraphrased him as saying Israel's policies had induced hatred
of its officials among residents of the occupied territories.
Iran has undertaken large-scale military manoeuvres this
summer and unveiled upgrades to weapons it says are defensive,
including what it said was a more accurate short-range missile.