Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon says the international community has not done enough to stop Iran from developing a nuclear weapon and warns that Israel will take its own measures to defend itself.
In an interview in Wednesday's Jerusalem Post newspaper, Prime Minister Sharon says there is no doubt that Iran is trying to obtain nuclear weapons and is doing so by "deception and subterfuge."
He says international efforts to curb Iran's nuclear ambitions have not been sufficient. Mr. Sharon calls for increased pressure and supervision of Iran's nuclear program and says the issue should be brought before the U.N. Security Council for sanctions to be levied against Tehran.
In the interview, Mr. Sharon denies that Israel is waging a campaign against Iran, but says there is also no doubt that Tehran presents a direct threat. He cites as evidence Iran's successful development of the long-range Shihab-3 rocket, which could reach Israel. He also says Iranian officials have made it clear they seek the destruction of the Jewish state. Mr. Sharon says Israel would take steps to defend itself against the Iranian threat. He did not elaborate.
Iran insists it is seeking nuclear technology only to generate electricity. But, Tehran has been under pressure from the United States and Europe to allow full inspection of its facilities and to halt any activities that could lead to the production of nuclear weapons.
The Iranian government has been negotiating with the U.N.'s nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency for some time but without satisfactory results. A recent agency report states it has thus far found no conclusive evidence of an Iranian nuclear arms program, but also notes some important questions remain.
Iran has now apparently again agreed to halt its uranium enrichment program, but that promise was quickly dismissed by U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell, who said "we've seen enough" of Iran's nuclear ambitions to warrant punitive action.
Israel and the United States have labeled Iran as a sponsor of terrorism and as a potential nuclear threat. Iran has repeatedly denied both allegations.