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Israeli defense minister: Only government to decide Iranian issue


09:00, August 17, 2012

JERUSALEM, Aug. 16 (Xinhua) -- Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak lashed out at his critics on Thursday, saying that the decision on how to counter the threat of a nuclear-armed Iran lies within the exclusive domain of the government.

"The prime minister, defense minister and foreign minister hold responsibility. A decision (to attack Iran), once one is needed, will be made by the government of Israel, not by groups of citizens or editorials," Barak said at a Knesset (parliament) session to swear-in a new home front defense minister.

The remark came against a backdrop of heated deliberations within the government, public and media in recent days over a possible military strike on Iran, and reports of deepening rifts with the United States over its timing if sanctions and diplomacy fail in coercing Tehran to end what many in the West contend is a clandestine nuclear weaponization program.

In a highly unusual public comment, Martin Dempsey, chairman of the U.S. military's Joint Chiefs of Staff, cautioned at a Pentagon briefing on Tuesday that an Israeli strike would fail to destroy Iran's nuclear program, only temporarily set it back.
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