Israel says still has military option on Iran

2009-09-22 09:29 BJT

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Russian President Dmitry Medvedev says he was assured by his Israeli counterpart Shimon Peres, Israel is not planning a military strike on Iran. However, the Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister says Israel hasn't given up the option of a military response to Tehran's nuclear programme.

In an interview with CNN released on Sunday, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said when he met Peres in Sochi last month, "the Israeli president, saying "Israel does not intend to launch any strikes on Iran, we are a peaceful country and we will not do this."

However, Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon responded that Israel has not given up the option of a military response to Tehran's nuclear programme.

Danny Ayalon, Israel's Deputy Foreign Minister, said, "It is certainly not a guarantee. I don't think that, with all due respect, that the Russian President is authorized to speak for Israel, and certainly we have not taken any option off the table."

Echoing that, the chief-of-staff of Israel's armed forces also said that Israel has the right to defend itself and all options are on the table.

Israel has long dismissed Iranian assurances that its nuclear programme is not intended to produce weapons. It has said it would not tolerate such a level of armament in the Islamic Republic.

Russia plays a role in the stand-off between Israel and Iran. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made an unannounced visit to Moscow this month. He has been keen that Russia not sell anti-aircraft missiles to Tehran and also that Moscow support international sanctions against Iran.