No strike on Iran at this time: Israel

No strike on Iran at this time: Israel

No strike on Iran at this time: Israel

US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and his Israeli counterpart Ehud Barak are seen in this photo. AP photo

Israel does not want to take military action against Iran over its nuclear program at this point, but at some point may have no other option, Israel’s defense minister said yesterday.

Israel at this point did not intend to launch a strike against Iranian nuclear facilities, but retained the option as a “last resort,” Defense Minister Ehud Barak told Israel Radio. “We don’t need unnecessary wars. But we definitely might be put to the test,” he said.

He said he hoped that sanctions and diplomacy would pressure the Iranian leadership to abandon its suspected nuclear weapons program, but did not expect that to happen.

Barak also suggested that Israel might not alert world powers before embarking on a strike in a response to the top U.S military officer’s remarks. “Israel is a sovereign state and it is the government of Israel, the Israeli army and security forces who are responsible for Israel’s security, future and survival,” Associated Press quoted Barak as saying.

The top U.S. military officer told Reuters on Nov. 30, he did not know whether Israel would alert the United States ahead of time if it decided to take military action against Iran. General Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, also acknowledged differences in perspective between the United States and Israel over the best way to handle Iran and its nuclear program. He said the United States was convinced that sanctions and diplomatic pressure was the right path to take on Iran, along with “the stated intent not to take any options off the table” - language that leaves open the possibility of future military action.

Meanwhile, U.S. President Barack Obama defended his policy toward Israel Nov. 30 at a political fundraiser. Obama, who has been criticized by some of Israel’s U.S. supporters for being tough on a close ally and has had strained ties with Israeli Prime Benjamin Netanyahu, offered strong assurances of his commitment to Israel’s security.

“I try not to pat myself too much on the back, but this administration has done more for the security of the state of Israel than any previous administration,” Obama said. “We don’t compromise when it comes to Israel’s security ... and that will continue.”