America’s top general is heading to Israel amid rising tension with Iran over its nuclear program. But Israel is toning down speculation about military action.
Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak says a decision by his country on whether to attack Iran's nuclear facilities is "very far off."
"We do not have a decision or a date for a decision," Barak told Israel’s Army Radio.
Iran says its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes, but Israel and Western countries believe Tehran is trying to build a nuclear weapon that could pose an existential threat to the Jewish state. Therefore, Israel has warned time and again that if international sanctions against Iran fail, it might take military action on its own.
Asked about when Iran might get the atom bomb, Barak said it is not a matter of years. He said most estimates point to a year or year and a half.
He spoke before a visit by the top general of the U.S. military, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Martin Dempsey. Barak denied media speculation Dempsey would pressure Israel not to attack Iran. He said military chiefs “prepare their armies for various scenarios ... but they do not pass on political messages.”
Even though Barak played down the prospects of an imminent Israeli attack on Iran, officials say the military option remains as a last resort.