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. Israeli ministers urged to keep low profile on Iran nuclear issue
JERUSALEM (AFP) Aug 30, 2004
The director of Israeli military intelligence Aharon Zeevi urged government ministers Monday to leave it to the United States and the European Union to take the lead in preventing archfoe Iran developing nuclear weapons.

"Israel must not take centre stage on this issue, but instead leave space for the Americans and Europeans to handle this issue," Zeevi told a cabinet meeting, according to an aide of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.

"Iran's nuclear programme threatens not only Israel but also the Gulf states and Europe.

"Any hasty declaration (by Israel) can only harm international (non-proliferation) efforts. It would be much better for us to maintain a low profile.

"2005 will be the decisive year in which it will become apparent whether Iran is going to follow North Korea and go nuclear despite the international pressure."

Justice Minister Yossef Lapid said the government could not ignore the seriousness of the issue.

"Iran and not the bombings (of Palestinian militants) are the real threat to Israel. That's why we have to deploy all our efforts and resources to face the challenge," the Sharon aide quoted him as saying.

The prime minister replied that the relevant government agencies were "constantly following the issue and making all necessary efforts."

In recent weeks, Iran has shown increasing nervousness about the possibility of a preemptive Israeli attack on its nuclear facilities and has warned that it would not to hesitate to strike back.

In 1981, Israeli warplanes took out Iraq's French-built Osirak nuclear reactor.

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