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British FM: Israel and Iran Both Potential Threats

England's Foreign Minister Jack Straw says the world should worry about disabling Israel's nuclear capabilities as much as it is concerned with preventing Iran from going nuclear.
By Ezra HaLevi
First Publish: 3/12/2006, 1:12 PM / Last Update: 3/11/2006, 11:30 PM


Straw said Thursday that Britain is seeking a "nuclear-free Middle East." He said that Iran and Israel were the only two countries left that posed "potential threats" now that Iraq and Libya's nuclear aspirations have been neutralized.

The foreign minister, who has made headlines in the past criticizing the Jewish state, conceded that removing the Iranian threat was indeed more urgent than the Israeli one. "If you want to see a nuclear-free Middle East, you've got to remove that threat from Iran, including the rhetorical threat to wipe Israel off the face of the map," Straw told British Channel 4 television. "Once you've done that, then we can get on to work in respect of Israel."

Former IDF Chief of Staff Moshe Yaalon faced criticism from defense officials in Israel over the weekend after he spoke at the Washington D.C. Hudson Institute, saying the military option against Iran's nuclear project was viable. He responded to the criticism on Israeli television Friday. "I spoke about the West's military option," he said. "Whether it is U.S. forces, NATO or the Israeli army that deal with the Iranian capability - there is a military capability that would set back the program for many years.”

Meanwhile, Iran threatened Saturday to use its oil as a weapon if the UN Security Council imposes sanctions over its nuclear program. "If they politicize our nuclear case," Iranian Interior Minister Mostafa Pourmohammadi said, "we will use any means. We are rich in energy resources. We have control over the biggest and the most sensitive energy route of the world."

Iran is the second largest producer in the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC). It has partial control over the narrow Strait of Hormuz, at the mouth of the Persian Gulf, through which crude oil is transported from Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates and Iraq to the world market.