Last updated: 17 September, 2013

Israel PM says will focus on Iran in Obama meeting

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Tuesday he would stress the need to halt Iran’s nuclear programme when he meets US President Barack Obama later this month.

Speaking at a meeting of his cabinet, Netanyahu said he would meet Obama before addressing the United Nations in New York.

“In another week-and-a-half or so I will travel to the UN General Assembly. I will first meet with US President Barack Obama,” a statement from Netanyahu’s office quoted him as saying.

“I intend to focus on the issue of stopping Iran’s nuclear programme,” he said, laying out four steps that Iran must take: halting all uranium enrichment, removing all enriched uranium from its territory, closing its underground nuclear facility in Qom and halting construction of a plutonium reactor.

“Only a combination of these four steps will constitute an actual stopping of the nuclear programme, and until all four of these measures are achieved, the pressure on Iran must be increased and not relaxed, and certainly not eased,” Netanyahu said.

He reiterated comments he made on Sunday during a whirlwind visit to Jerusalem by US Secretary of State John Kerry for talks on efforts to rid Syria of its nuclear weapons stockpile.

“A recalcitrant state that develops or acquires weapons of mass destruction is certainly likely to use them. It is possible to say that ultimately it will use them,” he told ministers on Tuesday.

“Only a credible military threat can allow diplomacy or other steps to effect a halt to this armament process.”

Israel, which has the region’s sole if undeclared nuclear arsenal, regards a nuclear-armed Iran as a threat to its very existence.

Western countries and Israel accuse Iran of trying to develop and build atomic weapons under cover of its nuclear energy programme, an allegation that Tehran has repeatedly denied.

Iran and the Western powers are due to relaunch nuclear negotiations before the end of September at a meeting in New York on the sidelines of the General Assembly.