Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak told a forum of military chiefs on Monday that Israel would regard a nuclear-armed Iran as an "existential threat" that would speed up a regional arms race.
Israel's military spokesman released Barak's comments after the United Nation's nuclear watchdog chief said global nuclear disarmament work was being hampered by Arab perceptions Israel wasn't abiding by a non-proliferation treaty.
Barak told a closed forum of military chiefs at a strategy session that if Iran obtained atomic weapons it would pose a "central threat to world order," the statement said.
Israel is believed to have the Middle East's only nuclear arsenal, though it has never acknowledged such a programme or ever testing atomic weapons.
The Jewish state has long denounced Iran's nuclear programme as a threat to its existence and also cites remarks made by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad saying Israel should be wiped off the map.
Iran says it seeks nuclear technology for peaceful purposes, in order to generate electricity.
Writing in the International Herald Tribune, Mohamed ElBaradei, director of the International Atomic Energy Agency, referred on Monday to Arab perceptions of Israel in the context of global nuclear disarmament efforts.
"The nuclear non-proliferation regime has lost its legitimacy in the eyes of Arab public opinion because of the perceived double-standards concerning Israel."
ElBaradei said further that Israel was "the only state in the region outside the NPT and known to possess nuclear weapons," referring to a global nuclear non-proliferation treaty never signed by the Jewish state.
Last Mod: 17 Şubat 2009, 18:33