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Netanyahu hints could consider Iran nuclear strike

AFP | December 5 2005

Former Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu hinted that he could consider a pre-emptive air strike against Iran's nuclear installations if he were to be re-elected. Netanyahu, who is widely expected to regain the leadership of the right-wing Likud party later this month, said Israel needed to "act in the spirit" of the late premier Menachem Begin who ordered an air strike on Iraq's Osirak nuclear reactor in 1981.

"I view the development of the Iranian nuclear (programme) as a paramount threat and as a real danger to the future of the state of Israel," Netanyahu told the Yediot Aharonot newspaper.

"Israel needs to do everything to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear threat against it."

"We need to act in the spirit of Menachem Begin, who defied the entire world and with a bold step prevented Iraq from arming itself with nuclear weapons."

Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, Netanyahu's arch rival said last week that Israel would never allow its arch-enemy Iran to come into possession of nuclear weapons.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad caused an international backlash in October when he called for the Jewish state to be "wiped off the map".

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in September found Iran in non-compliance with the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, paving the way for the matter to be referred to the UN Security Council if Iran does not halt nuclear fuel work and cooperate fully with an IAEA investigation.

Iran has insisted that its nuclear programme is merely designed to meet domestic energy needs.

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