Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak has called on the White House not to rule out the military option for retarding Iran’s nuclear program.

In a meeting with visiting US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on Friday, Barak said Israel is ‘convinced that Iran continues to try to build a nuclear weapon’.

Tehran, a signatory to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), denies the Israeli claim and insists that its enrichment program is solely directed at the civilian applications of the technology.

Senator Barack Obama, the 44th president-elect of United States, has vowed to engage Iran with dialogue to resolve the nuclear dispute.

"We don’t rule out any option. We recommend others don’t rule out any option either," Ehud Barak said after the meeting with Rice in regard to Obama’s Iran policy.

Earlier on Thursday, Israel had expressed its opposition to potential Tehran-Washington reconciliation efforts — Tel Aviv’s first dissonance with an Obama administration.

Israeli Foreign Minister and Kadima leader Tzipi Livni said dialogue with Tehran would be ‘interpreted as weakness’.

"We need to continue the pressure on Iran by intensifying effective sanctions," Livni said on Israel Radio, urging the continuation of the Bush carrot-and-stick approach toward Tehran.

In dealing with Iran, the Bush White House introduced incentives and sanctions, as well as threats of launching strikes against Iranian nuclear facilities in order to persuade Iran to suspend its uranium enrichment activities.

Senator Obama has promised to change the Bush policy, which has failed to yield results on the Iranian issue.

The UN nuclear watchdog, which has extensively monitored Iran’s nuclear activities since 2003, concedes it is not in a position to fully clarify the nature of the Iranian nuclear program.

The agency, however, announced in its latest Iran report that its inspectors have not found any ‘components of a nuclear weapon’ or ‘related nuclear physics studies’ in the country.

MD/AA

MRN

Author: MRN Network

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