ISRAEL WON'T RULE OUT MILITARY ATTACK ON IRAN
DEC 11 2005
Israel has not ruled out a military strike against Iran if the country advances further in its efforts to develop nuclear weapons, a senior Defense Ministry official said Sunday.
Amos Gilad denied a Sunday Times article that Prime Minister Ariel Sharon already had a plan to attack Iran in March, saying Israel was working with the rest of the world to solve the matter with diplomatic means.
"Right now the situation requires the focus on the international issue of protecting the peace of world," Gilad told Israel Radio. "But it isn't correct to say that a country that is threatened should deny that it will ever consider a different option."
Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom said Sunday: "Israel can not live in a situation in which Iran has the atomic bomb."
According to the newspaper report, Israel has a plan for a combined air and ground attack on targets in Iran if diplomacy fails to stop the nuclear program. Sharon's inner Cabinet authorized the attack in a meeting last month, the newspaper said.
Sharon said earlier this month that the ability to take out Iran's nuclear program by force "of course exists."
Although Israel is preparing for the possibility that Iran will acquire nuclear weapons, it will not lead the fight against the Islamic state's nuclear ambitions, Sharon has said.
Israeli warplanes destroyed an unfinished Iraqi nuclear reactor in 1981, but experts say a similar strike would be difficult because of the dispersed nature of Iran's nuclear program.
The chairman of the parliamentary Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, Yuval Steinitz, suggested that Israel knew where Iran was conducting its nuclear program.
"Israel has acted well in regards to intelligence and deployed accordingly," Steinitz told Army Radio.
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