(JERUSALEM) — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is talking tough on Iran in anticipation of President Obama’s trip to his homeland this spring.
At a conference of American Jewish leaders in Jerusalem on Monday, Netanyahu expressed concern that Tehran is even closer to developing a nuclear bomb than international observers anticipate.
The Israeli prime minister claimed that Iran has sped up the manufacture of crucial fissile material with centrifuges that cut the time by a third.
While not mentioning a preemptive military strike to knock out Iran’s nuclear facilities, Netanyahu told the conference, “This has to be stopped.…How do you stop it? Well, you have to put greater pressure on them. You have to upgrade the sanctions.”
Netanyahu hasn’t made such dire public pronouncements since last fall, when he told the United Nations General Assembly that Iran would cross a “red line” by mid-2013, meaning a point of no return that would force Israel’s hand to protect its national security.
Obama has been reluctant to talk about red lines but maintains the military option is on the table if sanctions and diplomacy fail to convince Iran it must not pursue nuclear weapons.
Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio
Sophie Eastaugh, CNN Newswire
Michael Pearson, Faith Karimi and Ian Lee, CNN