Tel Aviv : Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak said Friday he believes Iran is two years from developing a nuclear bomb.
“It’s possible that it may take another two years, maybe four … it’s all the same if international pressure and other possibilities don’t stop the process,” Barak was quoted as saying in Friday’s online edition of the Israeli newspaper the Jediot Achronot.
When asked whether Israel “was prepared to be alone with the problem,” Barak said, “The State of Israel is the strongest country in the entire region, even at a range of 1,500 km.”
He stressed that as Israeli defence minister, he did not have the privilege of providing a more detailed answer, but reiterated that there was “no power today that could cause the destruction of the State of Israel.”
Regarding a ceasefire in the Gaza Strip, Barak said he didn’t believe it would be possible to “reach a solution” to the violence Strip “without using force.”
Barak said he thought it possible that the situation would escalate in the Gaza Strip and that Israeli military would have to go back to Gaza.
“It could be that we will have to go back into Gaza. We have to be prepared for this,” he said.
He added that Israel “was in no hurry to do this, but neither are we deterred.”
Under Egyptian mediation, 12 Palestinian factions Wednesday arrived at an agreement about a comprehensive, mutual and gradual de-escalation starting in the Gaza Strip then moving to the West Bank.
In return, Israeli set three conditions for a ceasefire to be sustainable.
Israeli foreign ministry spokesman Ariye Mekel said the militant organizations must stop firing rockets and mortars at southern Israel, cease to attack inside Israel and on the Gaza-Israel border, and stop smuggling weapons into the enclave.
According to Barak, Israel rejected direct talks with the radical Islamist Hamas organization, which has controlled the Gaza Strip since June 2007.
An “indirect dialogue” was taking place on the humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip and the release of abducted Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, he said.