Israel says Iran `drifting` toward nuke goal line

Israeli Defense Minister said the world must quickly stop Iran from reaching the point where even a "surgical" military strike could not block it from obtaining nuclear weapons.

Davos: Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak
said on Friday the world must quickly stop Iran from reaching the
point where even a "surgical" military strike could not block
it from obtaining nuclear weapons.

Amid fears that Israel is nearing a decision to attack
Iran`s nuclear programme, Barak said tougher international
sanctions are needed against Tehran`s oil and banks so that
"we all will know early enough whether the Iranians are ready
to give up their nuclear weapons programme."

Iran insists its atomic programme is only aimed at
producing energy and research, but has repeatedly refused to
consider giving up its ability to enrich uranium.

"We are determined to prevent Iran from turning nuclear.
And even the American president and opinion leaders have said
that no option should be removed from the table and Iran
should be blocked from turning nuclear," Barak told reporters
during the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum.

"It seems to us to be urgent, because the Iranians are
deliberately drifting into what we call an immunity zone where
practically no surgical operation could block them," he said.

Barak called it "a challenge for the whole world" to
prevent a nuclear-armed Iran but stopped short of confirming
any action that could further stoke Washington`s concern about
a possible Israeli military strike.

Separately, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon urged a
resumption of dialogue between Western powers and Iran on
their nuclear dispute.

He said today that Tehran must comply with Security
Council resolutions and prove conclusively that its nuclear
development program is not directed to making arms.

"The onus is on Iran," said Ban, speaking at a press
conference. "They have to prove themselves that their nuclear
development program is genuinely for peaceful purposes, which
they have not done yet."

Ban expressed concern at the most recent report of the
International Atomic Energy Agency that strongly suggested
that Iran`s nuclear program, which it long has claimed is for
development of power generation, has a military intent.

IAEA chief Yukiya Amano said at a Davos session that "we
do not have that much confidence if Iran has declared
everything" and its best information "indicates that Iran has
engaged in activities relevant to nuclear explosive devices."
"For now they do not have the capacity to manufacture the
fuel," he said. "But in the future, we don`t know."

In spite of his tough words to Iran, Ban said that
dialogue among the "three-plus-three" -- Germany, France and
Britain plus Russia, China and the United States -- is the
path forward.

"There is no other alternative for addressing this crisis
than peaceful ... resolution through dialogue," said Ban.