Israel, Iran engage in war of words

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Monday, June 9, 2008

Shaul Mofaz at The Pentagon on November 10, 2003.
Image: Sgt. Andy Dunaway, U.S. Air Force.

Israel and Iran are engaged in a war of words following comments made by Shaul Mofaz, Israel's Transportation Minister, stating that his country will "attack Iran" if Iran does not stop building up its nuclear program.

On Friday, June 6 in an interview with Yedioth Ahronoth, an Israeli newspaper, Mofaz was quoted: "Attacking Iran, in order to stop its nuclear plans, will be unavoidable. If Iran continues its plan to develop nuclear weapons, we will attack it. The window of opportunity has closed. The sanctions are not effective. There will be no choice but to attack Iran to stop its nuclear program."

Iran has responded to Mofaz's statements saying that Israel would suffer a "painful response" if it attacks.

"If somebody wants to do such a foolish job, the response will be very painful," said Mostafa Mohammad-Najjar, Iran's Defense Minister, to reporters. "Ever since it lost to Hezbollah, Israel has been suffering from psychological problems, which is why its people make foolish remarks every now and again," he added.

The United States is committed to diplomacy regarding Iran's nuclear program and has urged Israel to also use diplomacy.

"We are trying to solve this diplomatically," said Dana Perino, the current Press Secretary for the White House. She also added that the U.S. "would never take any options off the table."

Israel's Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert, has not commented on the remarks made by Mofaz, but he states that while sanctions are a positive measure, "much more needs to be done to pressure the regime in Tehran to cease its aggressive nuclear program."

Iran began researching nuclear energy in the 1950s; the country has continuously stated that its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes.


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