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. Strike on Iran 'difficult but not impossible': Israel
JERUSALEM (AFP) Dec 30, 2005
A pre-emptive strike against Iran's nuclear facilities would be "difficult but not impossible", the head of Israeli military intelligence said in an interview published Friday.

"It is not the time nor place to talk about military action as the diplomatic route is still the order of the day," General Aharon Zeevi told the Yediot Aharonot daily.

"However if such action were to be decided upon in due course, it would be difficult but not impossible."

In an interview on Israeli radio on Thursday, the army's chief of staff General Dan Halutz ruled out the the prospect of a pre-emptive strike in the near future.

"I don't think that a military intervention against Iran's nuclear installations should be necessary in the short term," Halutz said.

"There is no threat to the existence of the state of Israel as long as Iran does not possess nuclear arms."

Israeli politicians and military commanders have recently stepped up warnings about Iran, which the Jewish state and the United States accuse of trying to develop a nuclear arsenal. Iran denies the charge, saying its nuclear programme is merely designed to meet energy needs.

Israeli fears were heightened when Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in October called for the Jewish state to be "wiped off the map."

Zeevi said Israel had "learnt the lesson" of its air strike on Iraq's French-built Osirak nuclear reactor in 1981, ordered by the late premier Menachem Begin.

Israel itself is believed to be the only nuclear power in the Middle East, although it has never admitted to having a non-conventional arsenal.

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