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Netanyahu: 20% Enrichment No Longer Relevant

Iran can now go directly from 3.5% enrichment to 90% "within weeks at most," says Prime Minister.
By Gil Ronen
First Publish: 10/27/2013, 9:26 PM

Netanyahu illustrates the "red line"
Netanyahu illustrates the "red line"
AFP photo

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said Sunday that it is no longer relevant whether or not Iran enriches uranium to the 20% level. The matter of 20% enrichment was the "red line" that Netanyahu insisted Iran must not pass, in his speech to the United Nations last year.

"Regarding Iran, we are not impressed by the discussion surrounding the issue of 20% enrichment," Netanyahu said. "The Iranians are intentionally focusing the discussion on this issue. It is without importance. Its importance is superfluous as a result of the improvements the Iranians have made in the past year which allow them to jump over the barrier of 20% enrichment and proceed directly from 3.5% enrichment to 90% within weeks, weeks at most."

Iran denied Saturday that it had stopped enriching uranium to 20%, contradicting an earlier statement by a lawmaker.

Because of the advances Iran has made, "there is no significance to the discussion about 20% which Iran seemingly will not give in on," Netanyahu explained. "It is willing to give in on this. It has no importance; it is a tactical move.

"In effect, Iran, which has violated all Security Council decisions on preventing it from enrichment at any level, has no right to enrich. This enrichment has only one purpose, not for nuclear energy for peaceful purposes, but producing nuclear weapons. Thus it is with its heavy water reactor. It has no connection with energy for peace but only for nuclear weapons.

"And therefore, the clear position that I outlined there during and after the discussions, and to the media, which we are presenting around the world is that Iran must dismantle its enrichment ability and its heavy water reactor as part of the process of preventing it from achieving nuclear weapons.

"We think that this must be insisted upon. Pressure must be increased because it is continuing to enrich during the negotiations. And because it is continuing to enrich, sanctions must be increased. Iran with nuclear weapons will change the Middle East and the world for the worse. This is something that all countries which seek peace and stability must oppose. Very many of them oppose this.

"I have been asked if I am concerned about standing alone in an isolated position against the world. First of all, the answer is no. This is vital and important for the security of Israel and, in my view, the peace of the world. Then certainly we are willing to stand alone in the face of world opinion or changing fashion. But in fact we are not alone because most, if not all, leaders, those with whom I have spoken, agree with us. There are those who say so fully and there are those who whisper and there are those who say so privately. But everyone understands that Iran cannot be allowed to retrain the ability to be within reach of nuclear weapons. This was the focus of the long and detailed talks that I held with John Kerry."