The United States has prepared plans for a "surgical" military operation to delay Iran's nuclear program in the event that diplomatic efforts to thwart Tehran's drive for nuclear weapons capability fail, Defense Minister Ehud Barak said in an interview with The Daily Beast on Friday.Speaking from Switzerland, where he is attending the Davos World Economic Forum, Barak challenged the notion that a military operation against Iran would develop into a "full fledged war the size of the Iraqi war or even the war in Afghanistan."“What we basically say is that if worse comes to worst, there should be a readiness and an ability to launch a surgical operation that will delay them by a significant time frame and probably convince them that it won’t work because the world is determined to block them,” Barak told The Daily Beast.The defense minister stated that, while the US was once heavy-handed in its attempts to carry out pinpointed military actions, under the leadership of President Barack Obama, the United States has "prepared quite sophisticated, fine, extremely fine, scalpels. So it is not an issue of a major war or a failure to block Iran. You could under a certain situation, if worse comes to worst, end up with a surgical operation."Barak said that even a small-scale series of surgical strikes was a last resort, and that Israel's preference would be to neutralize the Iranian nuclear threat diplomatically.Barak called for harsher sanctions against the Islamic Republic, but noted that he did not believe the diplomatic path was likely to succeed in halting Iran's nuclear drive given Russia and China's tendency to thwart harsher measures in the United Nations.