No immediate existential threat from Iran: Israeli defense minister

18:57, April 19, 2010      

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Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak said on Monday that Iran does not pose an immediate existential threat to Israel, reported local daily Ha'aretz.

"I prefer to refrain from speculation about the future. Right now, Iran does not pose an existential threat to Israel," Barak was quoted by Ha'aretz as saying.

However, the fact that Iran also could evolve into an existential threat keeps Israel warning, Barak added.

The defense minister's remarks came in response to a statement by the Pentagon on Sunday, which said the United States was considering a broad range of options to curb Iran's nuclear program if diplomacy and sanctions fail.

Also on Sunday, Chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff Mike Mullen said in New York the military options are available to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. While maintaining diplomatic efforts was the best way forward now, Mullen called military strike his "last option."

"If Iran becomes nuclear, it will spark an arms race in the Middle East. This region is very sensitive and important to the entire world," Barak said, urging to impose a specific deadline for sanctions on Iran "in order to facilitate what Mullen's remarks imply."

Both Israel and the United States believe that Tehran is secretly developing nuclear weapons, but Iran insists its nuclear program is for peaceful purpose.

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

Source: Xinhua

(Editor:王千原雪)

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