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Israel PM Draws Red Line (Literally) on Mythical Iranian Bomb

- Common Dreams staff

At the U.N. today, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu used a graphic to show how far he says Iran will be by mid-2013 in a quest to develop nuclear weapons. He drew the red line to mark where he says Iran must be stopped. (Lucas Jackson /Reuters /Landov)Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu took out a red magic marker during his speech to the full UN General Assembly on Thursday and drew a red line (literally) on a black and white drawing signifying an nuclear weapons program he accused Iran of hiding from the international community.

As The Guardian recounts from its speech coverage:

The only peaceful way to prevent an Iranian nuclear bomb is to place a "clear red line" on uranium enrichment, Netanyahu says. Then he goes on to literally draw a red line on a chart representing enrichment.

"A red line must be drawn ... on Iran's efforts to enrich uranium," he says. "Basically any bomb consists of explosive material and a mechanism to ignite it. ... In the case of Iran's plans, the gunpowder is enriched uranium. The fuse is a nuclear detonator." Netanyahu says it's far more difficult for Iran to enrich uranium than to build the fuse.

"Those uranium plants are visible and they're still vulnerable." In contrast, he says, a detonator could be built in a year, maybe less. He says it could be constructed in a difficult-to-locate workshop.

Netanyahu holds up a chart representing a nuclear bomb.

"This is a bomb," he says. "This is a fuse."

He is explaining where the red line on enriching uranium should be drawn. He says Iran is well into "the second stage" of enrichment. By next summer, they will move on to the final stage, he says. From there it's only a few months, maybe a few weeks, before they get enough enriched uranium for a bomb, he says.

"If these are the facts, where should a red line be drawn?" he asks.

Netanyahu takes out a red marker. "Where should a red line be drawn? he says. "A red line should be drawn right here."

He draws a red line, at the end of the "second stage," at 90% of the necessary enriched uranium for the first bomb.

The only problem, however, is that Netanyahu's claims are betrayed by the facts and, as is always the case, were offered amidst the lingering reality that Israel refuses to acknowledge the existence of its own nuclear arsenal.

As Christian Stork recounts today, in a piece titled "The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Iran and the Bomb, Or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Facts," Netanyahu's claims at the UN, like that of most western media, "are awash in misleading narratives, incomplete histories, and outright fiction about Iran and its nuclear program."

Regarding the most recent US intelligence estimate on Iran's nuclear program, Stork writes:

The 2011 National Intelligence Estimate (NIE), a synthesized compilation of data evaluated by America’s 17 intelligence agencies, declared that there were no serious revisions to the controversial (for war hawks) 2007 NIE—which stated Iran stopped its nuclear weapons program in 2003. While the 2011 estimate did include updated progress on Iran’s civilian nuclear program, such as an increased number of operative centrifuges, it still could not muster any evidence to indicate the program was being weaponized.

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