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Israel Says it Cannot Tolerate a Nuclear Iran


Israel is expressing growing concern about Iran's nuclear capabilities. Israel is hinting at a military option.

Prime Minister Ariel Sharon says Israel cannot tolerate a situation in which Iran will become a nuclear power. He told a news conference that Iran poses a great danger, and not only to the Jewish state.

"A nuclear Iran poses a global threat," Mr. Sharon said. He added that Israel is not spearheading efforts to block Iran from becoming a nuclear power, and that the international community must take the lead.

But Israeli Army Chief of Staff Lieutenant-General Dan Halutz doubts that diplomatic pressure will halt Iran's nuclear ambitions. He said Iran has dodged international pressure time and again, and that encourages the country to continue its nuclear project.

Israel has grown increasingly alarmed about Iran's nuclear program since late October, when the Iranian president publicly called for the Jewish state to be wiped off the map. Israeli officials say they expect Iran to reach the "point of no return" in developing a nuclear weapon next year.

General Halutz said there is a military option against Iran, but he refused to say who should take it. There is a precedent for Israeli military action. Israel's air force destroyed Iraq's nuclear facility in 1981.

Asked how far Israel is ready to go to stop Iran's nuclear program, General Halutz quipped, "2,000 kilometers." That is the distance from Israel to Iran.