JERUSALEM — Israel’s prime minister on Monday said that Iran is steadily edging closer to nuclear weapons capability but has not yet reached the ‘‘red line’’ he drew in a speech to the United Nations last fall.
Benjamin Netanyahu delivered his assessment as Israel took delivery of the fifth of six advanced submarines it has ordered from Germany. The Dolphin class vessels are believed to be capable of carrying missiles with nuclear warheads and could play an important role in any future conflict between Israel and Iran.
In Iran, an influential former president appeared to be trying to lower tensions with Israel, saying that his country is not at war with the Jewish state, Iranian media reported. It was the latest departure by a high-profile politician from the strident anti-Israel line traditionally taken by senior Iranian leaders.
The remarks by Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani follow calls from figures across his nation’s political spectrum to repair the damage to Iran’s international reputation, blaming outgoing President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who called Israel a doomed state and questioned the extent of the Holocaust.
Several of the critics, including Rafsanjani, are considered possible contenders in June elections to succeed Ahmadinejad.
‘‘We are not at war with Israel,’’ said the former president, quoted by several Iranian newspapers including the proreform Shargh daily.