A senior Israeli cabinet minister on Monday said Iran must be forced to face an existential question over its nuclear drive: choose between getting an atomic bomb, or survival.
“We believe that in order to stop the Iranian military nuclear project, the regime in Tehran should face a dilemma — whether to have a bomb or to survive,” Strategic Affairs Minister Moshe Yaalon told reporters in Jerusalem.
Yaalon said however it was for the international community, rather than Israel, to apply what he called an “achievable” policy.
“We prefer that the international community led by the United States will bring about this dilemma in order to convince the regime to give up its military nuclear programme,” he said, stressing the need for political isolation and economic sanctions aimed at the banking and oil sectors.
Israel and much of the international community fear 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.
“Our policy is very clear — by one way or another, the military nuclear project in Iran should be stopped,” Yaalon said, indicating it “might be 12 months, might be 24 months” until Iran was able to reach a military nuclear capability.
Israel has pushed Washington and the European Union for tough sanctions against Tehran, but has repeatedly warned it would not allow Iran to obtain nuclear weapons.
Yaalon, a member of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s inner circle of eight ministers, also reiterated the line that while a military option was still on the table, as “the last resort.”
He declined to comment on what was behind a deadly explosion at a Iranian military base near Tehran last month, which a top Israeli intelligence official reportedly said was a site where ground-to-ground missiles were being developed.
“They had some blow to the missiles project in the last incident in which a missile site absorbed a significant blow — especially regarding long-range missiles,” Yaalon said.
Media reports have suggested the blast was part of a covert effort by the United States, Israel and other states to disable Iran’s nuclear and missile programmes.
Last month, the UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency said it had “credible” information Iran was carrying out “activities relevant to the development of a nuclear explosive device.”