Netanyahu ramps up Iran attack threat

JERUSALEM Tue Sep 11, 2012 11:39am BST

Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem September 9, 2012. REUTERS/Menahem Kahana/Pool

Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem September 9, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Menahem Kahana/Pool

JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ramped up on Tuesday threats to attack Iran, saying if world powers refused to set a red line for Tehran's nuclear programme, they could not demand that Israel hold its fire.

"The world tells Israel 'wait, there's 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," Netanyahu, speaking in English, told reporters.

"Now if Iran knows that there is no red line. If Iran knows that there is 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.

Netanyahu's use of the word "deadline", at a news conference with visiting Bulgarian government leaders, appeared to be a swipe at U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Clinton said earlier this week that the United States would not set deadlines in any further diplomacy with Iran, drawing an angry response from a senior Israeli government official on Monday.

Netanyahu has said Israel and the United States were in talks on setting a "clear red line" for Iran's nuclear programme. But the two allies remain at odds over whether to spell out a clear threshold for military action.

Israel and the West believe Iran is working toward nuclear weapon development capability.

Israel, widely thought to be the Middle East's only atomic power, says a nuclear-armed Iran would be a threat to its existence. Iran says its nuclear work is for peaceful energy purposes only.

(Writing by Jeffrey Heller, Editing by Crispian Balmer)

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