Iranian UN Ambassador Muhammad Javad Zarif submitted a complaint to Secretary-General Kofi Annan and the Security Council on Friday protesting Deputy Defense Minister Ephraim Sneh's statements about Iran in Friday's Jerusalem Post.
Sneh told the Post in an interview that he "was not advocating Israeli preemptive military action against Iran" but that "even the last resort is sometimes the only resort."
Sneh said the IDF "must prevent the Iranian regime from obtaining nuclear capability at all costs" to avoid an untenable situation where Israel is "living under a dark cloud of fear from a leader committed to its destruction."
Zarif wrote a letter complaining about a "series of threats" from Israel, singling out quotes from Sneh that he said illegally threatened his country.
"The letter, underlining threats from Sneh and other Israeli officials, regards these statements as illegal, ridiculous and a sign of the Zionist regime's criminal policies and terrorist intentions," the Iranian state news agency said.
Sneh confirmed his statements in interviews with the Hebrew press in which he said Israel taking action against Iran was "the least preferable option and I don't recommend it, but if we say it does not exist, it means we are putting our future in others' hands and this we cannot do."
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's spokeswoman Miri Eisin told AP on Friday, "Mr. Sneh's comments did not necessarily reflect the view of Israel's government or the prime minister." The premier's spokesman Asi Shariv added that Olmert would not suggest that Israel would attack Iran.
But in an interview with Lally Weymouth of Newsweek-Washington Post that will be published on Sunday, Olmert issued his own threats against the regime of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
In a message ahead of his visit to the US, he said Iran would only agree to compromise on its nuclear program if it saw genuine reasons to fear reprisals. "Iran must start to fear," he said, stressing that Israel would support a compromise that would prevent Iran from achieving nuclear capability.
"This is the first time in many years that the official leader of a major nation... has talked of the liquidation of another nation that is a member of the United Nations," Olmert said. "He is a man who is ready to commit crimes against humanity, and he has to be stopped."
Olmert expressed his faith in US President George W. Bush's integrity and his determination on the Iranian issue. Asked if he supported a change of regime in Iran, Olmert said this possibility was only one of several options.
The people of Iran, he said, must understand that they will pay dearly for failing to comply with international demands that Iran cease its nuclear activity.