Israel rules out strike on Iran - for now

General Dan Halutz, Israel's chief of staff, has ruled out the prospect of a pre-emptive strike against Iran's nuclear installations in the near future.

    Dan Halutz: There is no threat to Israel's existence yet

    "I don't think that a military intervention against Iran's nuclear installations should be necessary in the short term," Halutz told army radio on Tuesday.

    "There is no threat to the existence of the state of Israel as long as Iran does not possess nuclear arms."

    Israeli politicians and military commanders have recently stepped up warnings about Iran, which Israel and the United States accuse of trying to develop a nuclear arsenal.

    Iran denies the charge, saying its nuclear programme is merely designed to meet energy needs.

    Atom bomb

    Israeli fears were heightened when Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the Iranian President, in October called for the Jewish state to be "wiped off the map."

    Ahmadinejad has called for
    Israel to be wiped off the map

    Meir Dagan, the head of the Mossad overseas intelligence agency, had told MPs earlier this week that Iran would be able to build an atom bomb within two years.

    Halutz, however, said he did not believe Iran would actually complete manufacturing a bomb "before the start of the next decade."

    He said that the regime in Tehran had "decided to obtain these (nuclear) weapons".

    "If they manage to do so, we will not be the only ones targeted and we should work out how to defend ourselves," he added.

    Benjamin Netanyahu, former prime minister and recently elected leader of the right-wing Likud party, had said earlier this month that Israel needed to "act in the spirit" of, Menachem Begin, the late premier who ordered an air strike on Iraq's French-built Osirak nuclear reactor in 1981.

    Israel - nuclear power?

    Israel's Dimona nuclear plant in
    the Negev desert

    Israel itself is believed to be the only nuclear power in the Middle East, although it has never admitted to having a non-conventional arsenal.

    Secrecy surrounding its nuclear capaiblity were lifted when a former worker at Israel's Dimona plant, Mordechai Vanunu, gave a British newspaper descriptions and photographs of Israeli nuclear warheads in the 1980s.

    Arab states have accused the United Nations nuclear watchdog of holding back from criticising Israel.

    Egypt, Syria and Saudi Arabia said the the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) was ignoring Israel's alleged weapons of mass destruction, according to a BBC report.

    At the same time, they said, the agency was putting pressure on other countries to give up their nuclear programmes.

    SOURCE: Aljazeera + Agencies


    Interactive: How does your country vote at the UN?

    Interactive: How does your country vote at the UN?

    Explore how your country voted on global issues since 1946, as the world gears up for the 74th UN General Assembly.

    'We were forced out by the government soldiers'

    'We were forced out by the government soldiers'

    We dialled more than 35,000 random phone numbers to paint an accurate picture of displacement across South Sudan.

    Interactive: Plundering Cambodia's forests

    Interactive: Plundering Cambodia's forests

    Meet the man on a mission to take down Cambodia's timber tycoons and expose a rampant illegal cross-border trade.