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Iran nuke warning has political overtones

June 7, 2008 at 12:41 PM

JERUSALEM, June 7 (UPI) -- A blunt warning from an Israeli Cabinet minister that an attack on Iran might be necessary reflects a political battle under way Israel, analysts say.

The comments from Shaul Mofaz, the Israeli transport and deputy prime minister, reflect growing nuclear fears but also come at a time when a fierce succession struggle is taking place in the Kadima Party. Current Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is viewed as a lame duck, crippled by a financial scandal, the Financial Times reported Saturday.

In the interview with a mass circulation Israeli newspaper, Mofaz said, "If Iran continues with its program for developing nuclear weapons, we will attack it. The sanctions are ineffective." But the Times says politics may have played a role in the remarks, since Mofaz is seen as being in a power struggle with Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni as the front-runner to succeed Olmert.

The Times says the Iranian-born Mofaz is positioning himself to the right of Livni on security concerns a reputation for being a hardliner on security matters and is said to be counting on his military experience to win the backing of Kadima members.

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