Ehud Barak, the Defence Minister, has called for major powers to speed up efforts to stop Iran's nuclear programme, cautioning that it would be tougher to confront the issue once Tehran had managed to cross an atomic threshold.
Israeli media interpreted Mr Barak's comments as pushing for an Israeli strike against Iran to stop a project the West sees as a drive to achieve nuclear weapons. Tehran, however, says its programme is intended solely for peaceful purposes.
"I am very well aware and know in depth the difficulties and complexity involved in preventing Iran from achieving nuclear weapons," Mr Barak told a graduation ceremony for security officers. "But it is clear to me beyond any doubt that confronting that challenge in itself once it ripens, if it ripens, will be infinitely more complex, infinitely more dangerous, and infinitely more costly in human life and resources," he said.