Iran may not be 'existential threat' to Israel: Mossad

AFP , Thursday 29 Dec 2011

Israeli Mossad spy agency view contradicts that of PM Benjamin Netanyahu, who has described a nuclear Iran as posing a 'dire threat to the entire world'

Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends a session of the Knesset, the Israeli parliament, in Jerusalem December 28, 2011. (Photo:Reuters)

The head of Israel's Mossad spy agency has said a nuclear Iran might not pose an "existential threat" to the Jewish state, in remarks reported Thursday by Haaretz newspaper.

"Does Iran pose a threat to Israel? Absolutely," the daily quoted Mossad chief Tamir Pardo as telling a group of Israeli ambassadors.

"But if one said a nuclear bomb in Iranian hands was an existential threat, that would mean that we would have to close up shop and go home. That's not the situation. The term 'existential threat' is used too freely," he said.

His remarks, which were made on Tuesday, stood in contrast to the position of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu which was laid out two months ago in remarks at the opening of the parliament's winter session.

"A nuclear Iran would pose a dire threat to the Middle East and to the entire world," he told MPs. "And of course, it poses a grave, direct threat to us too."

Speaking with the same ambassadors earlier on Tuesday, President Shimon Peres said Israel had "answers" to any threat posed by Iran but it was not the Jewish state's sole responsibility to deal with the issue.

"Israel has the answers to the Iranian problem but it is the responsibility of the whole world to solve it," he said. "This can not be transformed into an Israeli monopoly."

A report published by the International Atomic Energy Agency in November expressed "serious concerns" that Iran had "carried out activities relevant to the development of a nuclear explosive device."

Iran says its nuclear programme is peaceful and rejected the report as "baseless."

Israel is widely suspected to have the Middle East's sole if undeclared nuclear arsenal.

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