11:39am

Sun September 16, 2012
The Two-Way

Don't Allow Iran's Nuclear 'Touchdown,' Netanyahu Warns

Originally published on Fri September 21, 2012 9:29 am

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the Iranian nuclear program was "in the last 20 yards," and denied he was taking sides in the U.S. presidential election.

"They're in the last 20 yards, and you can't let them cross that goal line. You can't let them score a touchdown," he said Sunday on NBC's Meet the Press. "Because that would have unbelievable consequences, grievous consequences for the peace and security of us all."

The comments come after Netanyahu and the Obama administration openly clashed last week over Iran. NPR's Michele Kelemen reported on the disagreement on Weekend Edition Saturday.

Republican presidential nomine Mitt Romney has accused President Obama of throwing Israel "under the bus." Netanyahu denied that he supports that assertion.

"God, I'm not going to be drawn into the American election," he said. "And what's guiding my statements is not the American political calendar, but the Iranian nuclear calendar."

He reiterated his call for a "red line" to be placed before Iran to prevent that Islamic republic from building a nuclear bomb.

"They are six month away from being about 90 percent of having the enriched uranium for an atom bomb," he said. "I think that you have to place that red line before them now — before it's too late."

Tehran insists its nuclear program is peaceful.

The comments came as Susan Rice, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, insisted that there was "no daylight" between the two countries on stopping Iran from developing nuclear weapons.

She told CNN's State of the Union that the U.S. "will do what it takes" to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon.

Meanwhile, the top commander of Iran's powerful Revolutionary Guard vowed that "nothing will remain" of Israel if it attacks Iran's suspected nuclear program.

Here's more from NPR's Lourdes Garcia Navaro:

"The threats have been made many times before — but they come at a time of heightened tensions. In comments made in Iran, Gen. Mohammad Ali Jafari warned that Iran might close the Straits of Hormuz , withdraw from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and hit U.S. bases in the Middle East if it is attacked. He says Iran has many missiles that can target Israel and make sure nowhere is safe."

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