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Israeli PM says only U.S. military strike can halt Iran's nuke program


08:46, January 31, 2013

JERUSALEM, Jan. 30 (Xinhua) -- Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said that while American military action can eliminate Iran's suspected nuclear weapons program, an Israeli strike will only temporarily set it back, local media reported Wednesday.

"[A strike] is a defined and specific mission that the United States is capable of executing perfectly, whereas we are capable of causing significant damage," Netanyahu earlier this week told the Board of Governors of the American Jewish Committee (AJC), an international pro-Israel advocacy group, according to a Wednesday report in the Ma'ariv daily.

The remarks came after a relatively long lull in public comments by Israeli leaders about the Iranian issue. Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak, who is due to retire in the coming weeks, had previously hinted that Israel was prepared to preemptively strike (on its own, if need be) Tehran's enrichment facilities if international diplomacy and sanctions fail.

In apparent toned down rhetoric, Netanyahu said in his speech to the AJC on Monday that the U.S. capability to successfully halt Iran's nuclear progress via military action hinges on the timing: before Tehran completes the second stage of 20 percent-enriched uranium.

After that, "Iran will have enough enriched material to assemble a bomb within a limited time," Netanyahu told the AJC governors, who are currently in Israel on the first leg of a regional tour.

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