Washington, Sept. 11 – Iran’s nuclear weapons program promises to dominate the annual meeting of the United Nations General Assembly which begins in New York next week.
The session will showcase important speeches from U.S. President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as well as the usual hate-filled diatribe from Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
Israel would like Obama to spell out clear “red lines” to the Iranians that would trigger U.S. military action against Iran. But the administration does not want to get locked into positions it fears could limit its flexibility. Obama will speak on Sept. 25 and Netanyahu two days later. At this time, the two men aren’t scheduled to meet.
Netanyahu, in remarks on Tuesday in Jerusalem, said Iran remained undeterred by the tough international sanctions imposed by the international community and was continuing to move forward with its weapons program.
“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, toward obtaining nuclear weapons capability and from there, nuclear bombs,” Netanyahu said at a joint news conference with the visiting prime minister of Bulgaria, Boyko Borisov.
The United States has laid out one red line to Iran by saying it would not allow the Islamic republic to block the Strait of Hormuz, through which much of the world’s oil flows.
The International Atomic Energy Agency, the U.N. nuclear watchdog, reported last week that Iran had boosted its capacity to enrich uranium at the Fordow underground site. The Associated Press reported on Tuesdaythat new intelligence over the past month indicated that Iran has moved further toward the ability to build a nuclear weapon.
The intelligence shows that Iran has advanced its work on calculating the destructive power of an atomic warhead through a series of computer models that it ran sometime within the past three years.
But U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said the United States would have a year to prepare an attack if it concluded that Iran had made a decision to actually manufacture a weapon.
“We know generally what they’re up to. And so we keep a close track on them,” he said. “We have the forces in place to be able to not only defend ourselves, but to do what we have to do to try to stop them from developing nuclear weapons.”
“It’s roughly about a year right now,” Panetta said. “A little more than a year. And so … we think we will have the opportunity once we know that they’ve made that decision, [to] take the action necessary to stop [Iran],” Panetta said on CBS’s This Morning.