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(photo credit: AP [file])
Defense Minister Ehud Barak said Wednesday that despite Iran's nuclear weapons program, the diplomatic channel should still be pursued to resolve the standoff with the Islamic republic.
"[Iranian President Mahmoud] Ahmadinejad has a nuclear program with clear military intentions," he told Fox News. "[But] I believe now is the time for diplomacy."
"I say and keep saying that we won't remove any option from the table," he reiterated, however.
Earlier Wednesday, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said that if Iran acquires nuclear weapons it could "bring terrorism beyond our wildest dreams."
In an interview on NBC's "Today" show, Netanyahu said that if the UN Security Council doesn't act against Iran's nuclear program, then leading nations could put pressure on Teheran "especially when it comes to imported petroleum products."
Netanyahu called Iran "the major terrorist-sponsoring state of our time." He said that Teheran "could give those nuclear weapons to terrorists or give them a nuclear umbrella that would bring terrorism beyond our wildest dreams."
In interviews with American television stations on Tuesday, Netanyahu stressed that Israel reserves the right to defend itself against a nuclear threat from Iran, but the Islamic Republic's inner turmoil and weakened economy make it susceptible to pressure.
"I think the best thing to do is to apply what I think Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called crippling sanctions on Iran," Netanyahu told ABC television.
"The regime is susceptible to it," he added. "The sooner we do it, the sooner we'll find out and the less will be the need to take stronger actions."
Asked at what point Israel would not be able to live in the shadow of a nuclear Iran, Netanyahu replied, "I'm not going to deal in hypotheticals. Of course, every country reserves the right of self-defense and Israel is no exception."
In a separate interview with CNN, Netanyahu said that he supports the US position that "all options are on the table."
On Sunday, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said Israeli officials had assured him they were not planning a military strike on Iran.
Israeli officials intend to boycott Ahmadinejad's speech at the UN General Assembly on Wednesday.
In yet another interview with an American network, Netanyahu expressed optimism regarding the possibility of restarting negotiations with the Palestinians, while ruling out any dialogue with Hamas.
"We can work with the Palestinian Authority headed by Abbas," he said in another interview with Fox News, referring to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. "We cannot accept Hamas as a negotiating partner."
"I categorically say you can't make peace with somebody who wants to destroy you, and Hamas wants to destroy us," he said. "What would we negotiate with them about? The method of our destruction?"