Deputy Prime Minister Dan Meridor said "the time is now" for Israel and the world to act to thwart Iran's nuclear ambitions, after world powers on Friday accepted Iran's response to their offer of talks on the issue.

"The time is now," Meridor told Reuters in an interview published Saturday. "There is no more time to waste, and that's not only the Israeli perspective, it's much more general."

Meridor, who is also Minister of Intelligence and Atomic Energy, played down speculation that Israel was on the verge of launching a military strike against Iran's nuclear facilities.

"I'm not speaking of military action," he said. "I don't want to give any word that would be misinterpreted. I intentionally put this issue in its broader context."

He said Iran is a "special case" for his country because Iranian leaders say Israel is illegitimate and should not exist, Iran is boosting its military capabilities and is involved in international terrorism.

However, he added that, "One should not close one's eyes, but we are in a way fortunate that this is not only Israel's problem."

The minister said Iran would reach bomb-making potential before "the distant future," but noted this was not the key issue facing the world.

"The trend is clear, and if you want to be an owner of nuclear weapons or have the capability of being a nuclear power it changes the balance of power," he told Reuters.