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No Iran strike for the moment, Ehud Barak clarifies

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No Iran strike for the moment, Ehud Barak clarifies

Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak on Thursday ruled out a strike against Iran's nuclear facilities "for the moment," in remarks to public radio, but said that the Jewish state would keep all options open.

"We have no intention of acting for the moment... We should not engage in war when it is not necessary, but there may come a time or another when we are forced to face tests," Barak said.

"Our position has not changed on three points: a nuclear Iran is unacceptable, we are determined to stop that, and all options are on the table," he added.

Israel and much of the international community fears that Iran's nuclear programme masks a drive for a weapons capability. Tehran denies any such ambition and says the programme is for peaceful civilian energy and medical purposes only.

Israel has pushed Washington and the EU for tough sanctions against Tehran, but warned that it would not allow Iran to obtain nuclear weapons, and that military action to stop the programme remained an option.

Barak said he was confident that military action against Iran would not be devastating for Israel.

"War is not a picnic, but if Israel is forced to act, we won't have 50,000, 5,000 or even 500 dead, so long as people stay in their homes," he said, noting that rockets fired at Israel by Iraq during the 1991 Gulf War had not killed a single Israeli.

Asked about potential differences between the United States and Israel on tactics to stop Iranian nuclear development, Barak stressed that the Jewish state would ultimately take the decisions it thought best.

"It must be understood that Israel is sovereign. The government, the army and the security services are the only ones responsible for the security and the existence of Israel," he said.

Barak declined to comment on what was behind at least two explosions in Iranian cities in recent weeks, only one of which has been confirmed by Iranian authorities.

"Anything that sets back the Iranian nuclear programme, whether it is accidental or the product of other methods, is welcome," he said, refusing to say whether Israeli forces had any role in the incidents.

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