Deputy PM's Iran nukes threat denounced

June 8, 2008 at 11:56 AM

JERUSALEM, June 8 (UPI) -- Condemnation of a threat against Iran issued by Israeli Deputy Prime Minister Shaul Mofaz escalated Sunday, with Israeli diplomats and the U.N. weighing in.

Mofaz last week said in an interview a military strike against Iranian nuclear facilities would be necessary if Tehran does not stop developing its program. The comments were blamed by some as a main factor in Friday's $10-per-barrel run-up in crude oil prices to nearly $139 per barrel, and were condemned by Iran.

But negatives are now also coming from other Israeli leaders, including defense officials, who told the Jerusalem Post Mofaz's threats were not helping matters.

"We need to stop Iran, but not to appear that we are leading the world efforts to stop the Iranian nuclear efforts," the anonymous official told the newspaper. Another unnamed "senior security official" was cited by Israel Radio as saying Mofaz's remarks "were irresponsible and contradicted the political stance of the government of Israel."

Mohammed ElBaradei, chief of the International Atomic Energy Agency, said in an interview to be published in Der Spiegel Mofaz deserved criticism, the Post said.

"With unilateral military actions, countries are undermining international agreements, and we are at a historic turning point," ElBaradei told the magazine.

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