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Israel Concerned About Reported Expansion of Iranian Uranium Enrichment

Israel is concerned about reports that Iran is expanding its uranium enrichment program. Iran's student news agency, ISNA, reported Friday that the nation has successfully started enriching uranium in a second network of centrifuges.

With Iran reportedly increasing its capacity for enriching uranium, Israel fears that time is running out on efforts to stop the Islamic regime from building a nuclear bomb. Last week, Iran's president said Israel would soon disappear, following up on a similar statement a year ago, when he threatened to "wipe the Jewish state off the map."

Israeli government spokeswoman Miri Eisen says such bellicose statements are a cause of deep concern in Jerusalem.

"It's inconceivable that a country that calls for the destruction of another country should also try to achieve nuclear capability," he said.

Israel believes the international community is moving too slowly, as Iran stalls and continues to advance its nuclear program. Britain, France and Germany have proposed a draft U.N. Security Council resolution that would impose sanctions on Iran for its nuclear program and refusal to suspend enrichment activities.

Eisen says the U.N. and world powers must take a two-pronged approach.

"That on the one hand, the international community won't only condemn the president of Iran for what he says, but that he should be sidelined, that he should not be part of the international community; and at the same time, to continue, as strong as we can, to make sure that they do not achieve nuclear capability," he added.

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has said repeatedly that Israel cannot allow Iran to acquire a nuclear bomb. That has aroused speculation that Israel could launch a pre-emptive strike against Iran's nuclear facilities, as it did in 1981, when the air force destroyed Iraq's nuclear reactor.

But analysts say it would be much more difficult to knock out Iran's nuclear facilities, which are spread out and fortified deep underground in concrete. Since the military option is not an attractive one strategically or diplomatically, Israel is urging the international community to act against Iran before it's too late. Iran says its nuclear program is peaceful and aims to produce electricity.