* 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 programme that would convince Iran
they were determined to prevent it from obtaining nuclear arms.
Netanyahu's remarks suggested a growing impatience with
Israel's 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 strike on Iran.
Recent heightened Israeli rhetoric has stoked speculation
that Israel might attack Iran before the U.S. elections in
November, believing that President Barack Obama would give it
military help and not risk alienating pro-Israeli voters.
"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, repeating his view
that sanctions so far have not curbed Tehran's atomic ambitions.
Although Netanyahu did not single out 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.
Israel's popular YNet news website described the prime
minister's latest comments as a stinging rebuke of Obama. In a
U.S. election year, Republican candidate Mitt Romney has also
sharply criticised Obama's handling of Iran as not being tough
And in another sign of a rift with Washington, Israeli
officials voiced disappointment over recent remarks by the
United States's top general signalling reluctance to intervene
on Israel's behalf if it attacked Iran.
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 atomic arsenal in the
Middle East, views a nuclear-armed Iran as a threat to its
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 choose to do it,"
Britain's Guardian newspaper quoted him on Friday as saying.
Gilad Erdan, Israel's environment minister, said on Israel
Radio that Dempsey's remarks "were definitely not to our
liking". Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz said the general's
choice of words "was not the best".
Israeli officials have said Israel has yet to decide on
whether to attack Iran, amid divisions within its security
cabinet and warnings by military and security chiefs that a
strike would have only a limited effect.
Netanyahu has said he will speak out about what he termed
the dangers Iran poses to the world in an address this month to
the U.N. General Assembly in New York. He is also expected to
meet Obama during his visit, but no announcement has 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 Iran had more than
doubled the number of centrifuges in its fortified bunker at
Fordow since May, 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.
"The Iranians are using the talks with the world powers to
win time and to advance their nuclear programme," he said.
An Iranian general said that if Israel were to strike 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.