Barak: Israeli attack on Iran 'very far off'

Ahead of US military chief Dempsey's visit, defense minister suggests J'lem coordinating with US on plans for Iran action.

By JPOST.COM STAFF, REUTERS
January 18, 2012 11:03
2 minute read.
Defense Minister Ehud Barak

Defense Minister Ehud Barak 311. (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)

Defense Minister Ehud Barak said during a Wednesday interview with Army Radio that international efforts to slow Iran's nuclear program were working and that a decision about an Israeli attack on Iran was "far off."

Barak also said the United States was aware of Israel's position and plans,  countering remarks by US Joint Chiefs Chairman General Martin Dempsey in December that Israel would likely not update the US ahead of a strike. That comment, Barak said, was meant to put pressure on Israel not to attack Iran.

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Dempsey is scheduled to meet with Barak in Israel this week, triggering speculation that Washington will press Israel to delay any action against Tehran's nuclear program.

Asked whether the United States was asking Israel to let them know ahead of any assault against Iran, Barak replied:

"We haven't made any decision to do this," and added: "This entire thing is very far off."

Barak also suggested Israel was coordinating with Washington its plans about handling Tehran's nuclear project which Israel views as an existential threat.

"I don't think our ties with the United States are such that they have no idea what we are talking about," Barak said.

When pressed as to whether "very far off" meant weeks or months, Barak replied: "I wouldn't want to provide any estimates. It's certainly not urgent."

"I don't want to relate to it as though tomorrow it will happen," Barak said.

Iran says its nuclear program is solely for peaceful purposes.

The trip will be Dempsey's first visit since becoming chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in September.

In a Nov. 30 interview with Reuters, Dempsey acknowledged differences in perspective between the United States and Israel over the best way to handle Iran and its nuclear program.

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