Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the U.N. General Assembly that the "red line" he is seeking as a warning to Iran to stop its suspected nuclear weapons program would come as early as next spring.
The forecast, while coming in a speech on Thursday that emphasized his concerns that the international community was ignoring Iran's capability at its peril, was nonetheless notable for setting a deadline months after the U.S. presidential election in November.
Netanyahu in recent weeks has been pressing the Obama administration and the international community to come up with red lines that would trigger military action against Iran, and Israeli officials have hinted that Israel might strike Iran as early as this fall.
Using a chart picturing a bomb, Netanyahu told the General Assembly that Iran had achieved a low-enriched uranium capacity and was close to reaching a medium-enrichment capacity. Together, he said, those capabilities would supply Iran with the 90 percent of the uranium needed for a bomb.
The remaining 10 percent requires high-enriched uranium, Netanyahu said.
"And by next spring, at most by next summer at current enrichment rates, they will have finished the medium enrichment and move on to the final stage," the Israeli leader said. "From there it's only a few months, possibly a few weeks, before they get enough enriched uranium for the first bomb."
Using a marker, Netanyahu drew the red line on the chart at the spot between 90 percent enrichment and the remaining 10 percent.