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Israel prefers sanctions but ready to 'take action'

Latest update : 2008-07-11

Responding to Iran's second day of missile tests and intensified rhetoric, Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak said Israel backed diplomatic pressure and sanctions against its neighbour, but was "not afraid to take action."

Click here to watch our Top Story: "How far will Iran go?"

JERUSALEM - Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak said on Thursday he favoured the use of diplomatic pressure and sanctions against Iran’s nuclear programme but cautioned that Israel was “not afraid to take action”.

“Currently, the focus is international sanctions and vigorous diplomatic activity, and these avenues should be exhausted,” Barak said in a speech.

But he added: “Israel is the strongest country in the region and has proved in the past it is not afraid to take action when its vital security interests are at stake.”

Barak, leader of the centre-left Labour party, made the comments two days after an aide to Iran’s Supreme Leader was quoted as saying his country would hit Tel Aviv, U.S. shipping in the Gulf and U.S. interests in reply to any military strike.

Barak’s remarks did not depart from previously stated Israeli policy, but speculation that Israel—which fears Iran is seeking to build atomic weapons—could bomb Iranian nuclear installations has mounted since a big Israeli air drill in June.

Iran has said it is enriching uranium as part of a programme to generate electricity.

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said in a speech in Washington last month that “the Iranian threat must be stopped by all possible means.” He also called at the time for stronger international sanctions on Iran.

Date created : 2008-07-10