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INTERNATIONAL > Barak seeks to backtrack on Iranian nuclear comment

JERUSALEM - Reuters

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Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak has attempted to reassure Israelis about the government’s resolve to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons after he appeared to empathize with Tehran’s controversial nuclear quest during an American television interview.

Barak’s suggestion that, were he Iranian, he would “probably” seek the bomb made headlines in Israel, which feels uniquely threatened by the Islamic republic but has looked to world powers to intervene with tough diplomacy.

Taking time off from a visit to Canada to brief Israel’s main radio broadcasters, Barak said his remarks in English had been partly misunderstood.

Barak was asked on PBS’s Charlie Rose on Nov. 16: “If you were [Iran], wouldn’t you want a nuclear weapon?”

“Probably, probably. I know, it’s not -- I don’t delude myself that they are doing it just because of Israel,” he said. “They look around, they see the Indians are nuclear, the Chinese are nuclear, Pakistan is nuclear ... not to mention the Russians,” Barak said, referring to secretive nuclear program in Arab countries like Iraq, in the past, and of Israel itself.

November/17/2011

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