JERUSALEM, Sept 15 A senior Israeli official
signalled on Saturday that there would be no unilateral attack
on Iran in the coming weeks, saying that international pressure
had kept Tehran's controversial nuclear programme in check.
Speculation that Israel might attack Iranian atomic
facilities alone, and soon, has soared given an unusually public
dispute with the United States about how much time to allow for
negotiations and sanctions to run their course before
considering military action.
Amos Gilad, top aide to Defence Minister Ehud Barak, was
asked in a television interview whether the Jewish high
holidays, which begin on Sunday and end on Oct. 9, would be
"quiet in terms of any initiative taken by Israel".
The question followed an extensive discussion with Gilad
about Iran's nuclear programme, which the West suspects is
geared toward producing bombs despite Tehran's denials, and
about the violent outrage sweeping the Muslim world in response
to an American video clip mocking the Prophet Mohammad.
"What Israel will or won't do - I recommend that this remain
behind closed doors," Gilad told Channel Two television in
"But to the extent it is possible to foresee the holidays,
it looks like it will be quiet, if you exclude all kinds of
events like some maniac or hate crimes that set the entire world
Gilad played down the spat with Washington, saying that
Israel and its foreign allies agreed that "the Iranian threat is
a central threat" and that awareness of this cooperation had
prevented Tehran producing weapons.
"For now, as long as there is this unanimity, it seems to me
that even the Iranians understand this and are not crossing the
line .. of implementing and building a nuclear bomb, not because
they are merciful toward us, not because they like us, but
because they fear a military response or another response," he
Iran says its uranium enrichment programme, which could
yield the material for a nuclear warhead, is designed purely for
energy and medical needs.
Israel sees a mortal threat in a nuclear-armed Iran. Though
widely assumed to have the region's sole atomic arsenal, the
Israelis lack the conventional firepower to deliver lasting
damage to Iran's distant, dispersed and well-defended
facilities, and have said they would prefer superior U.S. forces
to do the job.