Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu urged world powers on Sunday to set a "clear red line" for Tehran's atomic program that would convince Iran they were determined to prevent it from obtaining nuclear arms.
Netanyahu's remarks suggested a growing impatience with Israel's main ally, the United States, and other countries that have been pressing him to give diplomacy and sanctions more time to work and hold off on any go-it-alone strike on Iran, reports Reuters.
Recent heightened Israeli rhetoric has stoked speculation that Israel might attack Iran before the U.S. elections in November, believing that President Barack Obama would give it military help and not risk alienating pro-Israeli voters.
"I believe the truth must be stated: The international community is not placing a clear red line for Iran and Iran does not see international resolve to stop its nuclear programme," Netanyahu told his cabinet.
"Unless Iran sees this clear red line and this clear resolve it will not stop moving forward with its nuclear programme, and Iran must not have nuclear weapons," he said, repeating his view that sanctions so far have not curbed Tehran's atomic ambitions.
Although Netanyahu did not single out Obama in his criticism, Israeli officials have said they hope for stronger language from the president about possible U.S. military action.
Obama, who has had a frosty relationship with Netanyahu, has insisted he will not allow Iran to build atomic weapons and that all options are on the table.
Israel's popular YNet news website described the prime minister's latest comments as a stinging rebuke of Obama. In a U.S. election year, Republican candidate Mitt Romney has also sharply criticized Obama's handling of Iran as not being tough enough.
And in another sign of a rift with Washington, Israeli officials voiced disappointment over recent remarks by the United States's top general signalling reluctance to intervene on Israel's behalf if it attacked Iran.
Tehran says it is refining uranium to fuel a planned network of nuclear power plants so that it can export more of its oil and gas. The United States and its allies accuse Iran of a covert bid to develop the capability to make nuclear bombs.
Israel, believed to have the only atomic arsenal in the Middle East, views a nuclear-armed Iran as a threat to its existence.
General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the U.S. joint chiefs of staff, has suggested Washington would not be drawn into conflict with Iran should Israel attack.