JERUSALEM (AFP) – Israel is considering an operation to destroy the nuclear capabilities of Iran, now regarded as the Jewish state’s number one enemy, Defence Minister Shaul Mofaz was quoted as saying.
If a decision is made to destroy Iran’s nuclear capability, “the necessary steps will be taken so that Iranian citizens will not be harmed,” the Haaretz daily cited Mofaz as telling Israel radio’s Persian service last week.
Since the collapse of Saddam Hussein’s rule in Iraq, Israel has come to regard the Islamic regime in Tehran as its number one enemy, despite Iran’s acceptance of a tough new international inspections regime for its nuclear facilities last week.
Meir Dagan, head of Israel’s Mossad overseas intelligence service, told MPs last month that Iran’s nuclear programme posed the biggest threat to the existence of the Jewish state since its creation in 1948.
Dagan said Israel had discovered in recent months that Iran was close to finishing construction of a uranium enrichment plant in the central Kashan area which could eventually give it the capacity to build around a dozen nuclear bombs.
The Iranian-born Mofaz said in a speech at a security conference near Tel Aviv that Iran was “a terror-supporting country”.
Avi Dichter, the head of the Shin Beth domestic security service, told delegates that Iran was “trying to exert its influence” over Palestinian militant groups such as Hamas and Islamic Jihad.
Iran won plaudits from the international community by signing Thursday the additional protocol of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty which opens the way for snap UN inspections of suspect sites.
Its signature of the protocol was part of a deal brokered by Britain, France and Germany in October to address US-led concerns about its nuclear programme.
Iran says Israel should now follow its lead and bring its own nuclear facilities under international oversight.