Netanyahu: Iran demands not related to U.S. election

3:12 PM, Sep 16, 2012   |    comments
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says his demands that the United States step up pressure on Iran's nuclear program have nothing to do with the U.S. presidential election.

"What's guiding me, contrary to what I have read in the United States, is not the American political calendar, " Netanyahu said on CNN's State of the Union. "It's the Iranian nuclear calender."

Netanyahu said "we know they (the Iranians) are working toward a (nuclear) weapon," and he wants the Obama administration to draw a "red line" that Iran cannot cross without inviting military action.

Such a red line "actually reduces the chance of a military conflict" because Iran will pull back its enrichment process rather than risk war, Netanyahu said.

Obama administration officials say economic sanctions are working in Iran, and have urged Israel not to launch any pre-emptive military action of its own.

Iran says it is developing nuclear energy for peaceful purposes.

The U.S.-Israel dispute over Iran is especially sensitive less than two months before the presidential election.

Netanyahu -- a long-time friend of Mitt Romney's who welcomed the Republican candidate to Israel over the summer -- said he knows that people "are trying to draw me into the American election, and I'm not going to do that."

Israel cherishes "the bipartisan support for Israel in the United States," Netanyahu said, "and we're supported by Democrats and Republicans alike."

Susan Rice, Obama's ambassador to the United Nations, told CNN that the administration remains confident that sanctions will dissuade Iran from pursuing nuclear weapons.

"Their economy is beginning to buckle," Rice said. "This is only going to intensify."

Rice added: "The president's bottom line is that Iran will not have a nuclear weapon."

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