WASHINGTON: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Tuesday that Iran should remain under biting sanctions until it halts all uranium enrichment, appearing to exceed UN demands on Tehran.
His remarks appeared aimed at stepping up pressure on Iran as it engages in revived international nuclear negotiations amid increased speculation in recent months that Israel may soon take military action to halt its nuclear drive.
"They have to stop all enrichment," Netanyahu told CNN in an interview in Jerusalem, adding that he would not accept Iran enriching uranium to even three percent, which is near the level required for peaceful atomic energy.
"After you stop all enrichment... you will get these (fuel) rods from another country that can allow you to use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes," he said.
Netanyahu said Iran must also "dismantle the underground bunker," apparently referring to the Fordo site near the holy city of Qom, where UN inspectors say it has begun enriching uranium to 20-percent purity.
When asked if he worried that his language might commit Israel to launching a military strike against Iran's nuclear facilities, Netanyahu replied: "I'm not worried what we look like. I'm worried about stopping this."
Iran has already developed the capacity to enrich uranium to 3.5 percent, the level required for atomic energy, and to 20 percent, which is used to create medical isotopes. It would have to enrich to 90 percent in order to make nuclear weapons.