Israel reserves the option to use military force to stop Iran’s nuclear program but a strike is not imminent, Defense Minister Ehud Barak said Thursday while downplaying the consequences of an Iranian retaliation to such an attack.

“We have no intention, at the moment, of taking action, but Israel is far from being paralyzed by fear,” Barak told Israel Radio. “It must act calmly and quietly – we don’t need big wars.”

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Barak’s comments came a day after Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, said that Israel and the US were currently in disagreement about how to deal with Iran’s nuclear program and that it was not certain that Israel would alert the US before launching a military strike.

“I’m not sure the Israelis share our assessment of that. And because they don’t and because to them this is an existential threat, I think probably that it’s fair to say that our expectations are different right now,” Dempsey said.

Barak said that while he respects the US and believes that Washington is committed to Israel’s security and regional qualitative military edge, Israel would ultimately need to act according to its own interests. While he hoped sanctions and diplomacy would succeed in stopping Iran’s pursuit of a nuclear weapon, “unfortunately, I think that is not going to happen.”

“We need to remember that ultimately, Israel is a sovereign state and the government and defense establishment, and no one else, are responsible for Israel’s security and future,” Barak said.

The defense minister said that Israel was not searching for a war but that it might need “to stand the test.”

Asked about the two recent mysterious explosions that have struck Iran – one in a missile base near Tehran and the other at a uranium conversion facility in Isfahan – Barak said that all delays to Iran’s program were welcome.

Meanwhile Thursday, former Mossad chief Meir Dagan said in an interview with Channel 2 that an attack against Iran would drag Israel into a regional war with severe consequences.

He dismissed Barak’s assessment that 500 people or less will be killed.

“There will be more,” Dagan said. “I need to consider that the extent of the destruction, the paralyzing of the ability to maintain a normal life and the price we will be asked to pay in human lives will be higher.”