Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Monday continued his campaign to get the
United States and the world to lay down a “red line” for Iran, amid initial
signs that US President Barack Obama might now be willing to do
Netanyahu, during a meeting with a group of wounded US and Israeli
veterans, said that the clearer the red line, the less likelihood there is of
Netanyahu said Iran, which he characterized as a “brutal
regime,” was galloping forward with its nuclear program because it did not see a
“clear red line from the international community. And it doesn’t see the
necessary resolve and determination from the international
The greater the resolve, and the clearer the red line, he
said, the less would be the chance of conflict because the Iranians would be
more likely to back off.
In other words, one government official said, an
attack could be averted if plain benchmarks were established, and the Iranians
were faced with a clear either/or proposition: Stop uranium enrichment and allow
inspection of nuclear sites, or face military action.
comments came the same day that The New York Times ran a story saying the Obama
administration was moving ahead “with a range of steps short of war that it
hopes will forestall an Israeli attack, while forcing the Iranians to take more
seriously negotiations that are all but stalemated.”
According to the
report, a major naval exercise in the Persian Gulf, a new anti-missile system in
Qatar and a more forceful clamp down on Iranian oil revenue were steps already
in the works.
The paper said the administration was also considering new
declarations by Obama spelling out what might bring about military action –
Netanyahu’s “red lines” – as well as more covert activity.
The New York
Times report of a more aggressive US position contrasted sharply with a Yediot
Aharonot report that said the US recently used two European countries to send
messages to Iran saying the US would not be dragged into an Israeli attack, and
in return expected Iran to refrain from striking US strategic targets in the
The White House sharply denied that report.
incorrect, completely incorrect,” White House spokesman Jay Carney said while
accompanying Obama on a campaign trip in Ohio.
“The report is false and
we don’t talk about hypotheticals.”
Intelligence Agencies Minister Dan
Meridor said he did not “know what kind of messages Yediot Aharonot heard, but
[thinks] the Iranians understand... that if they cross a line towards a bomb,
they could encounter very strong resistance, including all the options that are
on the table – as the American president has said.”
Meridor, in an Israel
Radio interview, said he did not sense a rupture in Israel’s ties with the US
and stressed that it was very important to maintain Washington’s
The minister added that the international effort against Iran
was taking its toll on the Iranians, who may now fear enriching uranium to a
higher, bomb-grade level because of the knowledge they could encounter a very
strong response if they crossed the line towards acquiring a nuclear
He said that the international community needed to increase its
pressure by strengthening the sanctions against it. One step that some Israeli
officials are calling for are sanctions on Iran’s Central Bank.
Premier Silvan Shalom also dismissed the Yediot report and the notion that the
US would not stand by Israel if it were to strike the Islamic
“The sole disagreement between Israel and the US is in regard
to timing,” Shalom told Army Radio. “The US is obligated to the existential and
security interests of Israel.
We are much closer than people
In a related development, a senior Iranian military official said
Monday Iran built about 30 percent of a missile defense system it is developing
in place of the Russian S- 300 system Moscow refused to sell it.
Esmaili, commander of the army’s air defense force, also reiterated that Iran
will hold a large-scale air defense exercise in the next two months covering the
whole country, the Iranian Students’ News Agency reported.
unveiled upgrades to weapons systems and held several military exercises this
year to demonstrate its ability to defend itself. ISNA quoted Esmaili on Monday
as saying Iran would test its air defense systems in mid-to-late October or
“We will use whatever we have in order to defend Iran,”
Esmaili said. “Today the main threat is an air threat, because it achieves quick
results, therefore it was felt it was necessary that air defenses work
independently.... One of our missions is being vigilant over sensitive centers
like refineries and nuclear sites,” Esmaili said.
“A new, more advanced
system with higher capabilities than the S-300 in detecting, identifying and
destroying targets is pending,” ISNA quoted Esmaili as saying. “About 30 percent
of the work related to building the Bavar-373 has been completed and we will
make efforts so that we can announce the completion of this project by next
Moscow refused to sell the sophisticated S-300 system to Iran on
the ground that it would violate expanded UN sanctions imposed over Iran’s
Iran announced in November 2010 that it had adapted
another Russian-made missile system to perform more like the S-300, a precision,
mobile, long-range air defense system that can detect, track and destroy
ballistic missiles, cruise missiles and low-flying aircraft.
experts have cast doubt on Iran’s claims of weapons advances, especially
regarding its missile program, saying they are often exaggerated.
Sunday, Iranian Deputy Defense Minister Mohammad Eslami said plans were afoot to
install missiles on long-distance unmanned drones that featured in missile tests
earlier this year. Authorities say the Karrar drone, unveiled in 2010, has a
range of 1,000 km. and can carry a single cruise missile or several smaller
Meanwhile, in a move that Israeli officials said had little
significance, Iran allowed Mongolian President Tsakhia Elbegdorj to visit the
uranium enrichment plant at Natanz.
Iran has allowed International Atomic
Energy Agency inspectors into the site in the past.
Elbegdorj took part
in last weeks Non-Aligned Movement meeting in Tehran, and his uranium-rich
country is believed to be constructing its own nuclear power
plant.Reuters and Jerusalem Post staff contributed to this report.