If Iran continues with its alleged nuclear arms programme, Israel will attack it, said a top Israeli official.
In an interviewpublished Friday in Yediot Ahronot newspaper, Deputy Prime Minister Shaul Mofaz, who is one of three deputy prime ministers and the transport minister, said sanctions on Iran were ineffective.
Iran keep on saying that its nuclear programme is for peaceful purposes, even though it is defying a demand from the UN Security Council to stop the enrichment of uranium. And Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Iran’s president, has repeatedly said Israel should be “wiped off the map”.
“If Iran continues with its programme for developing nuclear weapons, we will attack it. The sanctions are ineffective” Mr Mofaz told Yediot Ahronot.
“Attacking Iran, in order to stop its nuclear plans, will be unavoidable” he said.
Mr Mofaz is a former chief of the army and defence minister and he has also been Israel’s representative in a “strategic dialogue” on Iran with U.S. officials.
Three rounds of sanctions against Iran, including asset restrictions and travel bans in Iranian individuals and companies believed to be involved in nuclear work, have been approved by the UN Security Council.
Not government policy
The sale to Iran of so-called dual-use items, which can have either a military or civilian purpose are also banned by the sanctions.
Ehud Olmert, Israeli prime minister, said earlier this week that all possible means were to be used in order to stop Iran’s nuclear programme. But on Sunday The office of Israeli prime minister distanced itself from Shaul Mofaz’s statement, saying he was expressing a personal opinion, not government policy.
A spokeswoman for Mofaz, Talya Somech, confirmed Sunday that the quote was accurate. Mofaz was expressing “his own opinion” and not that of the government, she added.
But Mr Mofaz has been accused by other Cabinet ministers of speaking irresponsibly and suggested he was trying to sound tough for reasons connected with internal politics. With ehud Olmert being embroiled in a corruption scandal that might force him to step down, Shaul Mofaz sees himself as a candidate to replace Israeli prime minister and is engaged in a rivalry for the job with Tzipi Livni, Israel’s popular foreign minister.
“The cynical use of Israel’s strategic matters for party politics is beyond the pale and very serious”, said Deputy Defense Minister Matan Vilnai in a statement. Mr Vilnai said it would be wise to remain silent and “leave matters of security to those taking care of them”.
Rafi Eitan, a former Mossad agent who is now a minister in charge of retiree issues told Israel Radio that “in every subject related to war, it’s preferable for ministers not to speak unless its been decided on ahead of time in a careful and organized way” .
Oil prices made their biggest single-day jump ever on friday, and traders cited Mofaz’s comment as one of the reasons for the spike, because it hinted at the possibility of instability and a disruption of global oil supplies, .