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Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu Urges U.N. to Halt Iran’s Nuclear Program

September 27, 2012 at 12:00 AM EDT

JUDY WOODRUFF: Israel’s prime minister warned again today that Iran is well on its way to creating a nuclear weapon, and said the world needs to act.

Benjamin Netanyahu spoke at the United Nations. As he has often before, Netanyahu condemned Iran and its nuclear program and called on other leaders to do the same.

PRIME MINISTER BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, Israel: You see, at stake is not merely the future of my country. At stake is the future of the world. And nothing could imperil our common future more than the arming of Iran with nuclear weapons.

JUDY WOODRUFF: The Israeli prime minister said the hour is — quote — “getting late” to stop Iran as it continues its nuclear work.

BENJAMIN NETANYAHU: I speak about it now because the Iranian nuclear calendar doesn’t take time out for anyone or for anything.

I speak about it now because, when it comes to the survival of my country, it’s not only my right to speak. It’s my duty to speak.

JUDY WOODRUFF: The prime minister’s remarks came two days after President Obama also spoke out against Iran.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: A nuclear-armed Iran is not a challenge that can be contained. It would threaten the elimination of Israel, the security of Gulf nations, and the stability of the global economy. And that is why he United States will do what we must to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.

JUDY WOODRUFF: But Iran’s president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, has long insisted that the country’s nuclear program is only for peaceful purposes. And during his own speech yesterday, he denounced potential military action by Israel.

PRESIDENT MAHMOUD AHMADINEJAD, Iran (through translator): Testing new generations of ultra-modern weaponry and the pledge to disclose these armaments in due time is now being used as a new language of threat against nations to coerce them into accepting a new era of hegemony.

Continued threats by the uncivilized Zionists to resort to military action against our great nation, is a clear example of this bitter reality.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Earlier this week, Iran unveiled a new long-range reconnaissance drone, and the country’s Revolutionary Guard said it tested new missiles as well.

Prime Minister Netanyahu noted that while international sanctions by the U.S. and other countries have hurt the Iranian economy, they didn’t stop its nuclear program.

BENJAMIN NETANYAHU: There’s 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.

And I believe that, faced with a clear red line, Iran will back down. And this will give more time for sanctions and diplomacy to convince Iran to dismantle its nuclear weapons program altogether.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Using a drawing of a bomb with a fuse for illustration, Netanyahu literally drew a red line at the point before Iran reaches the final level of uranium enrichment, a step he says could be reached by next spring or summer.

The United States has not gone as far, but the topic is expected to be discussed when Secretary of State Hillary Clinton meets with the Israeli prime minister later this evening.