Iran Election Won't Stop Quest For Nuclear Bomb: Netanyahu

by
Reuters
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Wednesday Israel feared Iran would pursue what he said was a drive to develop nuclear weaponry whatever the outcome of its June 14 presidential election.

Benjamin Netanyahu

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Wednesday Israel feared Iran would pursue what he said was a drive to develop nuclear weaponry whatever the outcome of its June 14 presidential election.

"I ask that nobody delude himself. The results of the elections in Iran won't change a thing," the right-wing premier said in remarks to Israel's parliament.

While Iran has "not yet crossed a red line" - an allusion to a stockpile of enriched uranium sufficient to produce atomic bombs, the Islamic Republic was "methodically moving forward" with its program, Netanyahu also said.

Israel, widely believed to have the Middle East's only nuclear arsenal, has said it could take military action if diplomacy and increasingly tough trade and energy sanctions fail to rein in the nuclear activity of its arch-enemy.

Iran denies Western assessments it intends to use its nuclear know-how to make atomic weapons, saying its reactors have been developed for the purpose of energy production alone.

Most major state policies in Iran, like the nuclear program, are decided by clerical Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. But the main candidates for president are hardline conservatives committed to Tehran's nuclear course as well.

Western analysts believe that Iran's Revolutionary Guards, the muscle behind Islamist clerical rule, oversee the nuclear program and will help ensure, through a far-flung patronage network, that a conservative loyalist wins the election.

Outgoing Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, a populist hardliner, repeatedly called for Israel's destruction during his two terms of office from 2005.