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Israel repeats war threat after Iran nuclear talks fail


Israel reiterated its threat to launch a war against Iran on Wednesday after talks addressing Tehran's nuclear program in Moscow failed to make progress.

Six world powers and Iran failed to secure a breakthrough at talks in Moscow this week, the third round under the latest diplomatic initiative, and set no date for more political negotiations.

"It is time for the United States and Western powers to impose more severe sanctions in the oil embargo and financial sectors in order to stop Iran's nuclear development program," Vice Prime Minister Shaul Mofaz of the centrist Kadima party said in a written statement after talks in Washington with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

The Iranian-born Mofaz said that in addition to economic steps there was a need "to continue to prepare all other options," an oblique suggestion that a military attack to prevent Iran developing a nuclear weapon remained a possible course of action.

Before reports of the Moscow talks breaking up, Mofaz was quoted as telling reporters in Washington that any use of military power "should be the last option, and I believe that this option should be led by the US and the Western countries."

The remarks appeared to allay Western fears that Israel might pursue a war against Iran unilaterally and without consulting the United States beforehand.

Mofaz heads the largest party in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's right-leaning ruling coalition, after the two leaders forged a partnership last month to avoid threats by their opponents to seek an early election.

Western concern that Israel – the sole nuclear power in the region – might resort to force has fueled efforts to continue discussions with Tehran.

A member of the British negotiating team quietly visited Israel on Wednesday to brief officials on this week's Moscow talks, Israeli political sources told Reuters.

Defense Minister Ehud Barak stuck closely to his stated line, without offering any new sense of urgency, when asked by the Washington Posthow much more time Israel can allow for diplomacy to work.

"I don't want to pretend to set timelines for the world," he said, "but we have said loud and clear that it cannot be a matter of weeks but it (also) cannot be a matter of years."

Barak said that even in the United States, which has counseled against jumping the gun while a diplomatic drive with Iran is under way, "at least on a technical level, there are a lot of preparations" for military action.

Technical talks with Iran have been scheduled for July 3 in Istanbul, but no further political talks were planned, and some experts have said the risk of war will increase unless diplomacy is renewed.

Israel fears an Iranian nuclear capability will erode its regional supremacy.

Iran has repeatedly slammed the West over its double standard approach to Israel, which has avoided international scrutiny over its nuclear arsenal due to its privileged status as a US ally.

Israel has rejected calls from its Arab neighbors for it to disarm and work towards a nuclear-free Middle East.

(Al-Akhbar, Reuters)

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