Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon says the plan to withdraw from the Gaza Strip will be definitely implemented, but that it could be delayed to accommodate religious observances.

The Israeli cabinet is considering delaying the pullout from July 20 to until after August 14, when the annual Jewish mourning period ends.

In a wide-ranging interview with Israeli media Thursday, Mr. Sharon said Israel will continue to insist on "a complete stop to terrorism" by Palestinians, before discussing the internationally-backed "road map" peace plan. The plan calls for the establishment of an independent Palestinian state.

Mr. Sharon also voiced concern that the world was becoming used to the idea of a nuclear-powered Iran. But he ruled out any military action against Iran, saying "now is the time for diplomatic pressure."

Mr. Sharon said he believes that eventually Iran would be brought before the U.N. Security Council for sanctions.