Barak says Iran not imminent existential threat to Israel

10:18, March 09, 2010      

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Iran could be an existential threat to Israel but not currently, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak said on Monday.

"Iran does not pose an existential threat to Israel at this time," local news service Ynet quoted Barak as speaking before Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee of Knesset (Israeli parliament).

"Iran has the potential to develop into an existential threat on Israel, and we are working to prevent that," he added.

Apparently hinting that the peace process with the Palestinians could ease the security threats facing Israel, the minister said " in the field of opportunities, we consider the peace process with the Palestinians and the chance of moving forward to a diplomatic agreement alongside the threats from Hamas, Hezbollah and Iran."

Barak's comments come ahead of the arrival of U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, who is about to pay a visit to the region and meet with Middle East leaders. The Iran issue is expected to be one of the topics on top of Biden's agenda.

Both Israel and the United States believe that Tehran may obtain the uranium fuel needed for nuclear weapons by the same process to purify uranium. But Iran insists its nuclear program is for peaceful purpose.

Israel has long labeled Iran's nuclear program as a threat to its security, and refuses to rule out the possibility of launching unilateral military strike on Iran's nuclear facilities.

As for the possible indirect talks between Israel and the Palestinians, Barak said on Monday that, though Israel prefers to have direct talks, "in the reality that has been created, even proximity talks were difficult to obtain."

It is highly expected that a fresh round of proximity talks could be announced getting underway between Israel and the Palestinians during Biden's visit, after the peace process stalls for over a year.

Source: Xinhua
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