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Netanyahu: Iran closer to nuclear weapons that can strike US

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned Sunday that Iran was moving closer to developing nuclear weapons capable of striking the U.S., and urged the Obama administration to take a harder line.

During an appearance on “Face the Nation,” Netanyahu said that despite a new government in Tehran, Iran’s nuclear program would have intercontinental ballistic missiles that could carry a nuclear weapon to the United States within a few years.

“They don’t need these missiles to reach us,” Netanyahu said. “They already have missiles that can reach us.”

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The U.S. has imposed a series of sanctions on Iran, as well as businesses and individuals with alleged ties to its nuclear program.  

The Obama administration signaled optimism following the election of new Iranian president, Hassan Rouhani, who was the country's chief nuclear negotiator in 2003-2005 when Iran struck a deal with the European Union to suspend enrichment. 

But Netanyahu said little has changed under Rouhani.

“They’re getting closer and closer to the bomb, and they have to be told in no uncertain terms that that will not be allowed to happen,” he said.

The United States, he said, has a crucial role to play in demanding that Iran cease enrichment efforts and dismantle its nuclear facility.

“You should ratchet up the sanctions and make it clear to Iran that they won’t get away with it. And if sanctions don’t work, then they have to know that you will be prepared to take military action,” Netanyahu said. “That’s the only thing that will get their attention.” 

Asked what would prompt Israel to attack Iran, Netanyahu said “I won’t wait until it’s too late.”