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. Obama says Israel could strike Iran if sanctions fail: report
WASHINGTON, July 30 (AFP) Jul 30, 2008
White House hopeful Barack Obama believes Israel will launch a military strike on Iran if nuclear sanctions fail, ABC News reported Wednesday.

The comment was reportedly made in a meeting late Tuesday between Senator Obama and Democratic members of the House of Representatives, following the presidential contender's return from an overseas tour that included Israel.

"Nobody said this to me directly, but I get the feeling from my talks that if the sanctions don't work, Israel is going to strike Iran," an attendee at the meeting quoted Obama as saying, according to ABC.

Obama's national security spokeswoman Wendy Morigi declined to comment on the substance of the report.

But she stressed: "Senator Obama has always said that Iran must end its illicit nuclear program.

"He has advocated tough, direct engagement, backed by stronger sanctions to pressure Iran. And, he has made it perfectly clear that Tehran should not wait for a new administration to reach agreement to end its program."

Iran has been slapped with three sets of UN Security Council sanctions over its refusal to halt uranium enrichment, a process that makes nuclear fuel but also the core of an atomic bomb.

Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said on Wednesday that his country would not retreat in the face of demands by world powers for Tehran to stop the enrichment.

In Washington talks Monday, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak urged his US counterpart Robert Gates to keep "all options" open in dealing with Iran's nuclear program, Barak's ministry said.

According to another attendee cited by ABC, Obama also told Tuesday's meeting that Arab states understood that a nuclear Iran would be a "game changer" for the entire region because of likely Israeli action.

Visiting Paris as part of his foreign tour, which also took in Jordan, Obama said Friday that Iran should not wait for the next US president to be elected to resolve its nuclear dispute with the West.

"Iran should accept the proposals that President (Nicolas) Sarkozy and the EU... are presenting now. Don't wait for the next president," he said at a joint press conference with Sarkozy.

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