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Israel Calls for 'Crippling' Sanctions as Iran Enriches Uranium

Israel has issued a stern warning after Iran said it had begun making a higher-grade nuclear fuel.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says Iran's intentions are clear.

"Iran is racing forward to produce nuclear weapons in brazen defiance of the international community," he said. "And the international community must decide if it is serious about neutralizing this threat to Israel, the region and the entire world."

Mr. Netanyahu's comments to foreign diplomats came on the day that Iran said it would begin enriching uranium to 20 percent. Iran says its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes, but Israel and the West see the uranium-enrichment process as a significant step toward nuclear weapons capability.

Israel believes Iran could have the technology to build a nuclear bomb this year or next, and Mr. Netanyahu said it must be stopped before it is too late.

"I believe that what is required right now is tough action from the international community," he said. "This means not moderate sanctions, or watered-down sanctions. This means crippling sanctions and these sanctions must be applied right now."

Israel has warned that if diplomacy fails, it might launch a pre-emptive strike on Iran's nuclear facilities. Iran's president has threatened to wipe the Jewish state "off the map," and therefore, Israeli leaders have said time and again that Israel will not allow Iran to acquire the atom bomb.