Israel won't bomb Iran

2009-06-03 20:01

Moscow - Israel is not planning to bomb Iran, Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said on Wednesday, addressing speculation it might launch a military operation to destroy the Islamic Republic's nuclear programme.

Israel, widely believed to be the Middle East's only nuclear power, has repeatedly described Iran's uranium enrichment as a threat to its existence and has said all options were on the table in preventing Tehran from building atomic weapons.

"I have been asked by Saudi journalists about when Israel plans to bomb Iran. We are not planning to bomb Iran," Lieberman, who grew up in the Soviet Union, told reporters in Russian when asked about a possible strike against Iran.

"We do not have a need" to carry out attacks on Iran, he said. "Israel is a strong country and we can defend ourselves."

Many analysts have speculated that Israel, which has carried out long-range air exercises and is developing a missile interceptor system underwritten by the United States, could launch an attack on Iran's nuclear facilities.

Washington wants to see progress

US President Barack Obama said last month after talks at the White House with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that Washington wanted to see serious progress by the end of the year in his diplomatic outreach to Iran.

Netanyahu said after the meeting it was clear to Obama "that Israel reserves the right to defend itself". But Netanyahu said he hoped Obama's diplomatic efforts would be successful, a signal he had acceded for now to the US strategy of dialogue.

Iran rejects Western accusations its nuclear programme is aimed at making bombs. Tehran has vowed to retaliate for any attack with missile strikes against Israel and US Gulf assets.

Lieberman said if Iran gained nuclear bombs it would trigger an arms race in the Middle East region.

"This is not an Israeli problem," he said. "This is a threat to the entire world order and entire world community. So we do not want this global problem to be solved (only) by our hands."