Israel will make own decision on Iran: Army chief

In recent weeks, there has been feverish speculation that Israel was getting closer to mounting a pre-emptive strike on Iran.

Jerusalem: Israel will ultimately decree on an Iranian strike on its own, its military chief of staff said in an interview broadcast on Saturday, as a senior US official arrived for talks on the Islamic Republic.

"Israel is the central guarantor of its own security; this is our role as Army, the State of Israel should defend itself," Lieutenant General Benny Gantz told state-owned Channel One TV.

"We must follow the developments in Iran and its nuclear project, but in a very broad manner, taking into account what the world is doing, what Iran decided, what we will do or not do," he said.

In recent weeks, there has been feverish speculation that Israel was getting closer to mounting a pre-emptive strike on Iran`s nuclear programme, though Israel has denied reaching such a decision.

Tensions between Iran and Israel have been simmering with Iranian warships entering the Mediterranean through the Suez Canal in a show of "might", a move Israel said it would closely monitor.

On Wednesday, Iran said it had installed another 3,000 centrifuges to increase its uranium enrichment abilities and was stepping up exploration and processing of uranium yellowcake.

And Israel blamed a recent wave of attacks targeting Israeli diplomats on agents of Tehran, allegations Iran denies.

US National Security Advisor Tom Donilon will begin talks with Israeli officials on a range of issues including Iran, two weeks ahead of a Washington visit by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for White House talks with US President Barak Obama on the same topic.

A recent article in the Washington Post said that US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta thinks Israel may strike Iran`s nuclear installations in the coming months.

According to Gantz, whose interview was conducted prior to the Saturday developments, Iran was not only an "Israeli problem", but also "a world and regional problem".

On Saturday, Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak called on the world to tighten sanctions on Iran before the country enters a "zone of immunity" against a physical attack to stop its nuclear programme.

Iran has been slapped with four sets of UN sanctions and a raft of unilateral US and European Union measures over its nuclear drive, which Tehran maintains is peaceful but which much of the international community suspects masks a weapons programme.


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