President Benjamin Netanyahu last night demanded the drawing of a "clear red line" that Iran must not cross as it continues to enrich uranium in a nuclear programme that Israel and other Western governments believe is aimed at developing a nuclear arsenal.
Warning against a nuclear Iran, Mr Netanyahu asked delegates to "just imagine the world with a nuclear-armed al-Qa'ida", and said allowing Iran to attain the weapons would have the same consequences.
"At this late hour, there is only one way to peacefully prevent Iran from getting atomic bombs and that is by placing a clear red line on Iran's nuclear weapons programme," he said.
By using his appearance at the United Nations General Assembly in New York to deliver an ultimatum to Tehran, Mr Netanyahu will significantly raise the stakes in a years-long confrontation with Iran and potentially bring the region closer to an armed conflict.
It puts him at loggerheads with the White House, creating an unusual rift between the two normally steadfast allies.
Mr Obama declined to schedule a meeting with Mr Netanyahu even though his schedule yesterday was light.
"Israel and the US have a common goal to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons," an Israeli official said before Mr Netanyahu's speech.
Mr Obama has consistently said that all options remain on the table. In his address to the UN on Tuesday, he said that he continued to look for a diplomatic solution but added that the time for that was not unlimited.
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton publicly asserted that Washington is not ready to set down any "red lines". (© Independent News Service)