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Don't Allow Iran's Nuclear 'Touchdown,' Netanyahu Warns

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Gali Tibbon
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the Iranian nuclear program was "in the last 20 yards," and denied he was taking sides in the U.S. presidential election.

"They're in the last 20 yards, and you can't let them cross that goal line. You can't let them score a touchdown," he said Sunday on NBC's Meet the Press. "Because that would have unbelievable consequences, grievous consequences for the peace and security of us all."

The comments come after Netanyahu and the Obama administration openly clashed last week over Iran. NPR's Michele Kelemen reported on the disagreement on Weekend Edition Saturday.

Republican presidential nomine Mitt Romney has accused President Obama of throwing Israel "under the bus." Netanyahu denied that he supports that assertion.

"God, I'm not going to be drawn into the American election," he said. "And what's guiding my statements is not the American political calendar, but the Iranian nuclear calendar."

He reiterated his call for a "red line" to be placed before Iran to prevent that Islamic republic from building a nuclear bomb.

"They are six month away from being about 90 percent of having the enriched uranium for an atom bomb," he said. "I think that you have to place that red line before them now — before it's too late."

Tehran insists its nuclear program is peaceful.

The comments came as Susan Rice, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, insisted that there was "no daylight" between the two countries on stopping Iran from developing nuclear weapons.

She told CNN's State of the Union that the U.S. "will do what it takes" to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon.

Meanwhile, the top commander of Iran's powerful Revolutionary Guard vowed that "nothing will remain" of Israel if it attacks Iran's suspected nuclear program.

Here's more from NPR's Lourdes Garcia Navaro:

"The threats have been made many times before — but they come at a time of heightened tensions. In comments made in Iran, Gen. Mohammad Ali Jafari warned that Iran might close the Straits of Hormuz , withdraw from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and hit U.S. bases in the Middle East if it is attacked. He says Iran has many missiles that can target Israel and make sure nowhere is safe."

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Krishnadev Calamur is NPR's deputy Washington editor. In this role, he helps oversee planning of the Washington desk's news coverage. He also edits NPR's Supreme Court coverage. Previously, Calamur was an editor and staff writer at The Atlantic. This is his second stint at NPR, having previously worked on NPR's website from 2008-15. Calamur received an M.A. in journalism from the University of Missouri.