Netanyahu - Emil Salman
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Photo by Emil Salman
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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Wednesday the world must make clear that Iran would face "credible military action" if sanctions do not shut down Tehran's disputed nuclear program.

Netanyahu, in an interview on CNN, said it was apparent Iran was pursuing its nuclear ambitions despite international sanctions and was getting a lot closer to obtaining nuclear arms.

"They have enriched enough material now almost for three nuclear bombs," he said. "They still have to re-enrich it again but that is what they are doing.

"The only thing that will work is if Iran knew that if sanctions fail there will be a credible military option."

Asked what would constitute a credible military action, Netanyahu said: "It means action that will knock out their nuclear facility."

The UN Security Council has imposed sanctions on Tehran for refusing to freeze its uranium enrichment program, which Western powers suspect is aimed at producing a nuclear weapon.

Iran denies Israeli and Western allegations that it is enriching uranium to produce atomic arms and maintains that its program is for peaceful energy needs.

Netanyahu said if military action was taken, he would prefer that it be lead by the United States.

He said a nuclear-armed Iran would not be just a concern for Israel because it would pose the risk of proliferation.

"This is not just our problem. This is the problem of Europe, and the United States," he said.

In a wide-ranging interview, Netanyahu also said he was not surprised that Saudi Arabia had dispatched forces to Bahrain after weeks of pro-democracy protests in the Gulf Arab island state.

"I think they are concerned with a possible Iranian takeover of Bahrain, which would put Iran effectively within spitting distance of the Arabian Peninsula," Netanyahu said of
Saudi Arabia.

"Saudi Arabia is working to protect its own interests. But there is a very large global interest in making sure the world's oil wells, that the largest reserves of the world's oil supply do not fall into Iranian or pro-Iranian hands," he said.

Asked about the pro-democracy protests sweeping the Arab world, Netanyahu said the Middle East would have "a brilliant future" with real democratic change.

However, he said that if Iran remains immune to change "and meddles in other places and transforms them into so-called Islamist republics... I would say that is the worst nightmare."

On the peace with the Palestinians he said, “I think it’s possible to achieve this peace," but spoke at length about various Israeli leaders' efforts to reach an agreement – in vain.

The Palestinian unity government with Hamas, he warned, would kill off the peace process. "What do I negotiate with Hamas, the method of our termination?," he asked.

He questioned how is it possible to be for peace with Israel and also for peace with Hamas, which he said wants to destroy Israel, and likened such a situation to a peace agreement with Al-Qaida.

Netanayhu reiterated his familiar position that it’s impossible to impose peace – and that Israel needs a partner.

If Mahmoud Abbas wants a peace, he said, he should stop flying around the world. "Ramallah is ten minutes away from Jerusalem" and both sides should sit down and negotiate “until smoke comes out", the way Israel made peace with Egypt and Jordan, Netanyahu said.

Seven Israeli prime ministers tried to make peace with the Palestinians, he said, but yielded no results. “They refuse to say they recognize a Jewish state. I want to hear this clear statement,” he said.

He called the Fogel family murder in the settlement of Itamar “horrific savagery” and after describing the murder in details, promised: “We are now looking for the killers. We’ll find them”.