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. Peres plays down possibility of Israeli strike on Iran
UNITED NATIONS (AFP) Oct 01, 2004
Israeli opposition leader Shimon Peres on Friday played down suggestions that his country might use a military strike against nuclear facilities in its arch-foe Iran.

"I don't think Israel will lead the policies vis-a-vis Iran," Peres told reporters after meeting UN Secretary General Kofi Annan. "The problem is a world problem concerning the Americans, the Russians (and) the Europeans."

He added: "There are three options, not just the military one. There is also the political and economic one."

Israel used airstrikes to wipe out a nuclear reactor in neighbouring Iraq in 1981, and Israeli Defence Minister Shaul Mofaz on Wednesday said Iran must be stopped before it achieves nuclear capability.

Iran has insisted that its nuclear programme is only for peaceful purposes and has regularly complained that Israel, which has never admitted to having nuclear capability, is the true threat to stability in the region.

But world pressure has been mounting over Tehran's nuclear ambitions and the UN's nuclear watchdog has called on the Islamic regime to halt all activities related to uranium enrichment, which could lead to a nuclear weapon.

"Iran is not only producing a nuclear option, but they are the centre of terror in our time," Peres said.

He said there were now two leading Muslim countries in the world, Turkey and Iran. Turkey signed a military cooperation agreement with Israel since

"Turkeky thinks that you can be modern and Muslim, and Iran thinks you should be only Muslim," he said, adding that he hoped the Turkish vision of a free economy and secular state would prevail "for the sake of the Muslims."

Iranian Foreign Minister Kamal Kharazi last week told the United Nations that Tehran would "leave no stone unturned" in trying to convince the rest of the world that its nuclear programme was only for civilian energy purposes.

Under a resolution by the International Atomic Energy Agency, Iran has until November 25 to clear up suspicions or risk seeing the issue referred to the UN Security Council for possible sanctions -- a move backed by the United States.

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