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(photo credit: Courtesy)
Defense Minister Ehud Barak said that "Iran could reach nuclear capabilities within a year and half or two years if they decide to break all the rules, but it might take a little longer," during an interview with FOX News on Monday.
Following his meeting with US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton Barak said during the interview that the Iranian threat is "the highest priority at the moment, not just for Israel but even for this [Obama] administration. It will be part of the way that history will judge this administration."
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"The whole world has to take it seriously," Barak continued.
Barak said "I don't think we have to be frightened by the threat of Ahmadinejad."
When asked about the usefulness of sanctions, Barak stressed "I don't believe that sanctions alone could work. . . we believe that no option should be removed from the table."
Barak met earlier with Clinton
in New York Monday night to discuss the Iranian threat and negotiations with the Palestinians.
The defense minister specifically addressed Israeli concerns over Iran's continued drive
to harness nuclear power for military purposes.
to deceive the world community and continues to move forward with its
military nuclear program despite sanctions. There is no doubt that the
sanctions are hurting Iran, but Iran continues to play for time," Barak told Clinton.
A defense ministry spokesman said the main topic of discussion between the two was, however, the building freeze in Judea and Samaria.
"The peace process between Israel and the Palestinians requires brave decisions from both sides," Barak said, "and we can not let different disagreements complicate the process."
"We are at a historical time, with a real chance of a breakthrough to peace. Israel wants peace, but expects that any agreement will protect its security interests," the defense minister explained.
"Israel expects the US to protect its relative advantage over its neighbors," he added.
Barak and Clinton. also discussed broadening peace talks to include others in the Middle East, as well as the Iranian nuclear threat.
Earlier Monday, Barak met with US Defense Secretary Robert Gates in Washington to discuss ways to maintain Israel's qualitative military edge in the Middle East. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen also participated in the meeting.
"I am confident that the qualitative, security relationship between Israel and the US that has existed up until now, will continue to gather strength and develop further in the future," said Barak.He also discussed with Gates and Mullen, Israel's concerns over Russia's recent agreement to sell missiles to Syria, the transfer of weapons from Syria to Lebanese terror group Hizbullah and the current state of relations between Israel and Turkey, another one of the US's allies in the Middle East region.
Earlier on Monday, Barak on met with US National Security Adviser Gen. Jim Jones to discuss the ongoing peace talks with Palestinians and the possibility of Israel extending the building freeze in the West Bank.
"The decisions that lie before Israel and the Palestinians are important ones, far more dramatic than the continuation of construction in Judea and Samaria," Barak said at the meeting.
Barak also discussed with Jones and other senior White House
officials his concerns over the continuing transfer of weapons from Iran
and Syria to Lebanese terror group Hizbullah and Russia's recently
signed agreement to sell missiles to Syria.