Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu raised stakes on Thursday, when he literally drew a red line for Iran to cross. Using a cartoon drawing of a bomb, Netanyahu used a red marker to draw a line just below what was labeled "final stage" on the drawing. Netanyahu appeared to challenge Iran by asserting his belief that Iran will back down when given an ultimatum.
"At this late hour, there is only one way to peacefully prevent Iran from getting atomic bombs. That's by placing a clear red line on Iran's nuclear program," said the prime minister.
Netanyahu's remarks come after Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad dismissed Israel and the United States' resolve to prevent Iran from building a weapon. Ahmadinejad did, however, deny that his country was working on a weapon when asked by reporters before his address to the General Assembly.
Despite differences of opinion on how Iran should be dealt with, the Obama administration is reportedly in close contact with Israeli officials. Though Netanyahu did not give a specific date the "red line" would be crossed, the drawing put it at when Iran reaches about 90 percent completion of its uranium enrichment process. According to Netanyahu, this will take place within a year.
These new developments have only created a situation of who will "blink" first. An interesting note here is that even though no one has presented a concrete timetable, there are still some subtle inferences involved.
Netanyahu's stated that Iran will reach the critical point within a year. This could mean anywhere from a few weeks to several months. The president has specifically said the U.S. will stop Iran at all costs and now, the Israeli prime minister draws a visual red line. Though no one has said it, the implication is there. If Iran does not comply, it will likely be attacked within a year. Exactly when is a matter of when it is believed that Iran is about to reach that final stage.
There is also another point that should be taken into consideration with those who believe that this is only saber-rattling on the U.S. and Israel's part. Reuters reported on Thursday that the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council met to discuss Iran's nuclear issue.
"We discussed at length the need for Iran to take action urgently as we considered the Iranian nuclear issue... I will, from that meeting, now be in touch again with Iran to continue this process," said EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, according to the report.
This is yet another indication that Iran may be closer to being attacked than some may realize. Add this to the military buildup ostensibly labeled as a training exercise and a more serious picture begins to appear.
It is now apparent, at least to some, that it would be in Iran’s interest to pay attention to these warning signs and take them seriously.
There is also one other thing to consider. We must remember that all war is based on deception. Months may mean weeks and days could mean hours. If Iran is truly building a nuclear weapon, they obviously have to know that at some point a military strike will come. Exactly how close is Iran to actually reaching this stage?
Is there a chance that they could already have a weapon? If so, that could explain Ahmadinejad's nonchalant attitude about the issue. Or, is Iran counting on its allies to back it up when the time comes where military intervention will be the only option?
As the world watches and waits for the outcome of this crisis, it is likely to be a very tense atmosphere for all involved as this endgame unfolds.