Netanyahu: Israel Reserves the Right to Defend Itself Against Iran

In meeting with Canada's PM in Ottawa, PM warns against diplomatic path with Iran, says international community must not fall into Tehran's trap.

In his first public comments on a North American visit that will include talks with U.S. President Barack Obama, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Friday Israel reserved the right to defend itself against Iran.

Netanyahu said the international community should not allow what he called "Iran's relentless pursuit of nuclear weapons" to succeed.

Netanyahu in Canada - Reuters - March 2, 2012

"As for Israel, like any sovereign country, we reserve the right to defend ourselves against a country that calls and works for our destruction," he told reporters in Ottawa at the start of a meeting with Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

Netanyahu also ruled out the idea of international talks to prevent Iran from gaining nuclear weapons, just as the United States is pursuing a diplomatic tack.

Netanyahu will meet Obama on Monday to address growing differences between the two leaders over what Washington fears could be an Israeli attack on Iran's nuclear sites.

Obama's preferred policy for now is to use diplomacy and increased sanctions to curb Iran's nuclear program.

"It [Iran] could do again what it has done before, it could pursue or exploit the talks as they've done in the past to deceive and delay so that they can continue to advance their nuclear program and get to the nuclear finish line by running up the clock, so to speak," Netanyahu said in Ottawa after talks with Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

"I think the international community should not fall into this trap," he told reporters.

The Israeli prime minister also demanded Iran dismantle a nuclear facility near the city of Qom, stop enriching uranium and remove all material enriched above 3.5 percent from the country.

Netanyahu wants Obama to more forcefully declare "red lines" that Iran must not cross in its nuclear program.

In an interview published on Friday, Obama used his sharpest language yet to warn Iran of his willingness to resort to military options if necessary to prevent Tehran from acquiring nuclear weapons.

Obama told the Atlantic magazine that "all options are on the table" for dealing with Iran's nuclear plans and added that the final option was the "military component".