Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has used his speech to the UN General Assembly to emphasize the need for what he called a "red line" past which Iran could expect to be attacked for pursuing a nuclear weapons program.
"At this late hour, there is only one way to peacefully prevent Iran from getting atomic bombs and that's by placing a clear red line on Iran's nuclear weapons program," the Israeli leader told the General Assembly.
Netanyahu, using visual aids, said there are three stages of uranium enrichment in preparation for making a nuclear bomb and said Iran is currently in the second stage of nuclear enrichment. He drew his "red line" at the point where the second, "medium" stage of enrichment is complete.
He said that by the end of summer 2013 Iran would have sufficient enriched uranium to be on the "brink" of making a nuclear bomb – the third stage.
Netanyahu urged the international community to send a clear signal to Iran, saying, "Red lines don't lead to war; red lines prevent war."
Netanyahu also recounted what he said was Iran's history of sponsoring attacks and providing aid to terrorist groups, the Iranian government's denial of the Holocaust, and calls to destroy Israel.
"Given this record of Iranian aggression without nuclear weapons," he said, "just imagine Iranian aggression with nuclear weapons."
The Israeli prime minister said, "Nothing could imperil our future more than an Iran armed with nuclear weapons."
Iran's UN delegation was not present during Netanyahu's speech, having walked out in a tit-for-tat move after the Israeli and U.S. delegations left before Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad spoke on September 26.
Israeli leaders have warned repeatedly in recent weeks that Israel would carry out a unilateral military strike if Iran got close to making a nuclear bomb.
Netanyahu spoke after Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas spoke to the UN General Assembly and accused Israel of carrying out "ethnic cleansing against the Palestinian people via the demolition of their homes."
Netanyahu responded to Abbas's comments by saying, "We won’t solve our conflict with libelous speeches at the UN."
With reporting by Reuters, AP, and AFP