Ehud Barak, Guido Westerwelle 390.
(photo credit: Ariel Harmony / Defense Ministry)
Defense Minister Ehud Barak said Thursday that Iran is not completing its proliferation of nuclear weapons due to the threat of military action against it.
"Iran fears actions against it" by the United States or "another actor," Barak told Israel Radio in a telephone interview from Germany, presumably referring to Israel.
The Islamic Republic, he said, has been working in recent years to reinforce and scatter its nuclear sites throughout the country in order to mitigate the damage of a possible military strike against them.
Saying that there is full intelligence cooperation between Washington and Jerusalem on the Iranian nuclear issue, the defense minister asserted that Israel cannot stand on the sidelines or allow itself to lose its freedom of action in the Iranian theater.
Speaking in another interview Thursday morning, Barak told Army Radio that 2012 will be a decisive year regarding the Iranian nuclear threat.
On Wednesday, Barak said in a meeting with his German counterpart that Israel will decide its own fate with regards to Iran.
Israel views the Iranian issue in "a way unique to us, and we are attentive to all our friends, but in the end, the Israeli government will be the one who will have to take the decisions on Israel's security and future," Barak said.
The international community has been pursuing a diplomatic approach to the Iranian nuclear program. Sanctions, led by the US and EU, have considerably damaged the Iranian economy
. Israeli officials, however, have maintained the right to act independently if it assesses that Iran poses an immediate existential threat.
During the meeting, Barak also said that there was a "growing recognition in the international community that the Iranian military nuclear program is consistently approaching the zone of immunity, and that sanctions need to be stiffened, while talks need to be speeded up."
Earlier Wednesday, Barak signed a contract for the purchase of a sixth submarine
for Israel's navy in Berlin. Wolf Rudiger, state secretary of the ministry of defense, signed for Germany.
During the signing ceremony, Barak said that the new submarine would act as a "force multiplier" for the IDF, and assist it in dealing with growing security challenges.Yaakov Lappin contributed to this report.