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Netanyahu: Nuclear Iran Would Choke World Economy

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu says if the world is worried over what Iran is doing to oil prices now, just wait until they get the bomb.
By Gabe Kahn.
First Publish: 2/28/2012, 5:35 PM

PM Binyamin Netanyahu
PM Binyamin Netanyahu
Flash 90

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday warned a nuclear-armed Iran would exercise de facto control the major Gulf oil producers and "choke" the global economy.

"Everyone needs to understand that if we're worried today about rising oil prices we shall be far more worried if Iran, heaven forbid, gains control over the energy centers in the Persian Gulf," Netanyahu on Israeli radio. "Iran would be able to dictate far higher oil prices and, by so doing, choke the world economy.”

"Anyone who is interested in stopping the manipulative use of oil production, its influence on world markets, the threats to the world's economies, must also for that reason enlist to stop Iran's nuclear race,” he added.

His comments come amid world concern over spiking oil prices due to Iran's ability to negatively impact energy markets.

Israel, the United States, its Western allies, and Gulf Arab states fear Iran's self-proclaimed peaceful nuclear program is a weak facade for a nuclear weapons program.

Tehran denies the charge, but the International Atomic Energy Agency said in a report on Friday that Iran had tripled its capacity to enrich uranium to 20-percent purity since November.

Enriching uranium to 20 percent is a major step towards purifying it to the 90-percent level needed for a nuclear weapon.

Most analysts believe Iran already has a sufficient stockpile of 20% enriched uranium to produce a 15 kiloton nuclear weapon should Tehran decide to push for weaponization. That process, they say, would take Iran 2.5 to 3 months.

Israel, which maintains a policy of nuclear ambiguity is widely considered to the sole nuclear power in the Middle East, and has said all options - meaning a potential military strike - are on the table ensure Iran doesn't join the so-called "nuclear club."

Iranian officials have repeatedly called for the destruction of Jewish state and called Israel a "one bomb state."

However, Jerusalem is under intense pressure from Washington and Europe not to launch a pre-emptive military strike, leading Israeli officials to charge they are more concerned about oil prices and imminent electoral races than world security.

Netanyahu has said Iran will top the agenda when he meets with US President Barack Obama for talks in the White House on March 5.