AFP: Israel "does not intend to bomb" Iran, Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said on Wednesday, after repeated warnings from the Jewish state that Tehran is courting danger over its nuclear drive.
By Olga Nedbayeva
MOSCOW (AFP) — Israel "does not intend to bomb" Iran, Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said on Wednesday, after repeated warnings from the Jewish state that Tehran is courting danger over its nuclear drive.
"We are not intending to bomb Iran," Lieberman told reporters in Moscow. "It is not a problem for Israel, it is a problem for the Middle East."
"No one is going to get their problems solved through our hands. We do not have claims on Iranian territory, we do not have a common border with Iran," he added.
Israeli officials in the past few years have refused to rule out the option of a military strike on Iran, which Israel accuses of seeking to develop a nuclear weapon. Tehran denies the charges.
"Iran's entry to the nuclear club will provoke an arms race in the Middle East and this will be a challenge for the international community," Lieberman added.
Israel has repeatedly sounded the alarm over the Iranian nuclear drive, particularly after President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad called for the Jewish state to be "wiped from the map" and cast doubt on the Holocaust.
Some commentators have predicted that new right-wing Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu would take an even harder line on Iran than the previous government and resort to military action.
Netanyahu said on a visit to Washington last month that Israel reserved its right to self-defence against Iran.
But Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon said last month he could "not imagine" Israel would strike Iranian nuclear facilities without advance approval from the United States.
Israeli radio also reported in May that CIA chief Leon Panetta had held secret talks in Israel with top officials who assured him the Jewish state would not launch a surprise strike on Iran.
President Barack Obama's decision to engage Tehran in direct talks in an effort to end the nuclear standoff have raised concern in Israel which called for the negotiations to be limited in time and accompanied by tough sanctions.
Rounding off a two-day visit to Moscow, Lieberman also bluntly warned Russia not to consider inviting Palestinian militant group Hamas and Lebanese Shiite miltants Hezbollah to a mooted peace conference.
Russia, a member of the international quartet for the Middle East, hopes to hold a major conference this year bringing all the top players together for a peace parley in what would be a major boost for its own diplomatic kudos.
"We will not participate in any conference — neither in Washington nor in Moscow — that has the participation of Hamas and Hezbollah," Lieberman told reporters.
Russia, which has traditionally had strong ties with the Arab world, maintains contacts with Hamas, which Israel regards as a terrorist organisation.
Lieberman said that Israel thought the Moscow conference was a positive idea but "the objectives and list of participants need to be defined, as well as the result it wants to reach".