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Netanyahu draws red line on Iranian enrichment

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu brought in a graphic aid at the UN General Assembly, calling for a red line to be placed on Iran's efforts to enrich uranium. Israel believes Iran is seeking nuclear weapons.

Netanyahu told the General Assembly that Iran might not respond to policies of deterrence once it had developed nuclear weapons, a position he called "a very dangerous assumption." The Israeli prime minister argued instead that "a red line needs to be placed first and foremost on Iran's effort to enrich uranium."

Netanyahu said such red lines do not lead to war, but rather prevent it.

"Israel is in discussions with the United States over this issue and I am confident that we can chart a path forward together," the Israeli prime minister told the assembled delegates in New York.

Watch video 01:21

Palestinian and Israeli leaders address the UN

Iran says that its nuclear program is for civilian purposes only. Speculation has mounted in recent weeks that Israel might unilaterally strike against Iran, with Netanyahu's government considering the prospect of a nuclear Iran as an existential threat, owing to Iranian leaders saying Israel should be wiped off the map.

Netanyahu used a simple diagram of a bomb with lines denoting levels of uranium enrichment. He said he believed Iran, if left unchecked, would reach 70 percent enrichment by next summer, and the 90 percent needed for nuclear weapons shortly thereafter. He used a thick red marker to draw another red line over the point denoting the 90-percent mark on the cardboard graphic.

The Israeli prime minister was speaking immediately after Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, and only briefly addressed Abbas' criticism of Israeli settlement building in the occupied West Bank. He said that Abbas would not solve the conflict with "libelous speeches at the UN" or "unilateral declarations of statehood."

Palestinians seek status upgrade

Mahmoud Abbas, Chairman of the Executive Committee of the Palestinian Liberation Organization and President of the Palestinian Authority, addresses to the 67th United Nations General Assembly meeting September 27, 2012 at the United Nations in New York. (Photo: AFP)

Abbas said settlement building threatened the peace process

Abbas had delivered am impassioned address, particularly on the issue of settlement building by Israel.

"Developments over the past year have confirmed what we have persistently drawn attention to and warned of: the catastrophic danger of the racist Israeli settlement of our country, Palestine," Abbas said, claiming that the policy of continued settlement building showed "that the Israeli government rejects the two-state solution."

Where a Palestinian bid for statehood was concerned, Abbas also said he had opened talks on a bid for increased Palestinian recognition at the UN, though he didn't say when he hoped the General Assembly would vote on the matter.

Saying that Palestinian authorities had already begun "intensive consultations with the various regional organizations and state members," Abbas said the Palestinians would apply for recognition as a non-member state. This would mean the UN recognizing a Palestinian state.

The Palestinians are currently classified as "permanent observers" at the UN; last year, they tried and failed to secure full UN membership.

While the US - as a permanent member of the Security Council - could veto a resolution backing full Palestinian membership, no country has direct veto powers when voting on a General Assembly resolution.

"In our endeavor, we do not seek to delegitimize an existing state - that is Israel - but to assert the state that must be realized - that is Palestine," Abbas said.

The Associated Press reported, citing Palestinian officials, that the status upgrade bid was likely to be submitted on November 29.

msh/pfd (AFP, AP, dpa, Reuters)

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