Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told US Vice President Joe Biden on Sunday that Iran must be made to fear a military strike against its nuclear program, Israeli media reported yesterday — a departure from the Israeli leader’s previous emphasis on using diplomacy to curb Tehran’s nuclear ambitions.
Meeting with Biden in New Orleans on Sunday, Netanyahu said that although sanctions have hurt Iran, Tehran will be determined to produce nuclear weapons unless it thinks a military strike is a real option, the media reported, citing unidentified Israeli officials.
Netanyahu’s call for a “credible military threat” drew a swift response from US Defense Secretary Robert Gates, who said international sanctions were “biting more deeply” than the Iranians anticipated.
Israel, like the West, disputes Iran’s claims that its nuclear program is designed to produce energy, not bombs. In the past, it has said it prefers to block the Iranian threat through diplomacy, though it has not ruled out a military strike.
Israel sees Iran as its fiercest threat because of its nuclear program, its ballistic missiles capable of hitting the Jewish state and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s repeated references to Israel’s destruction.
Last week, Israel’s military intelligence chief said Iran possessed enough enriched uranium to build one nuclear bomb and soon will have enough to produce a second. The CIA and the UN’s nuclear watchdog have offered similar assessments.
In 1981, Israeli aircraft destroyed an unfinished nuclear reactor in Iraq. Experts judge that the Iranian nuclear program would be harder to cripple because facilities are scattered across the vast country and some are located underground.
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