JERUSALEM, Israel -- Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu took his message about Iran to Italy this week, when he flew to Rome Tuesday to meet with Italian Prime Minister Enrico Letta.
At the start of their evening meeting, Netanyahu said Iran's uranium enrichment program and plutonium facility belie its claim of developing nuclear energy strictly for civilian purposes.
"Iran says it wants a deal in which it will have civilian nuclear energy, but that is not the real issue," Netanyahu explained. "Many countries in Europe, North America and Asia have nuclear energy without centrifuges and plutonium. The only reason Iran is demanding centrifuges and plutonium is to enable it to produce enough materials for a nuclear bomb."
"This is why the U.N. Security Council reached many resolutions, including one in 2010 that called for Iran to destroy the centrifuges and cease the production of plutonium," he continued.
"If Iran retains these capabilities, it will be able to progress quickly toward the production of a bomb," Netanyahu said. "It can move quickly from a low level [enrichment] of 3.5 percent straight to 90 percent without the intermediate level of 20 percent," he said.
"We cannot let them do this. Our efforts toward peace can be severely harmed if Iran succeeds in its goals," Netanyahu said. "It will be tragic if it succeeds in avoiding sanctions."
Netanyahu will meet with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, in Italy to discuss Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, on Wednesday.
Meanwhile at U.N. headquarters in Manhattan, Israeli Ambassador Ron Proser told Security Council members Tuesday that debunking Iran's nuclear weapons program remains Israel's top priority.
Proser admonished member nations to look beyond last month's charm offensive by Iranian President Hassan Rouhani at the General Assembly.
"Rouhani is trying to reinforce the image that he's a moderate," Proser said, cautioning against easing economic sanctions before "Iran agrees to play by the rules."