Netanyahu’s confusing red line


Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu drew a red line yesterday for all the world to see. He drew it on a display showing a bomb with a lit fuse, symbolizing Iran’s nuclear program.

But it’s not clear how, exactly, the red line on his diagram translates into the real world. (Mitt Romney also has had some trouble clearly explaining his red line.)

The New York Times reports that there is some confusion in Israel:


Mr. Netanyahu’s bomb was divided into sections marked 70 percent and 90 percent, representing the amount of progress Iran has made, or will make, toward amassing enough enriched uranium for a bomb, Israeli officials and experts said. Mr. Netanyahu drew his red line at the 90 percent mark, suggesting that the Iranians would be 90 percent along the way — a point he asserted they will reach by next spring, or summer at the latest.

But on Friday, Israel’s leading weekend paper, Yediot Aharonot, interpreted the diagram differently, assuming that Mr. Netanyahu was referring not to progress made, but to actual percentages of uranium enrichment.

Yediot columnist Nahum Barnea told the Times that his paper’s analysis was based on what Israeli officials had told the paper, but he added: "It doesn’t make sense; the numbers are not clear.”

But Dore Gold, president of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, said that Netanyahu was not talking about enrichment levels: "Netanyahu cannot draw a line at 90 percent enrichment. If you get to 90 percent enrichment, the whole of the West is in big trouble.”

And the Times quoted well known Israeli political theorist Shlomo Avineri, who confessed his befuddlement: “Bibi is not an expert on uranium enrichment, and neither am I, so I’ll be careful. But it is not very clear where the red line is.”

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