A senior Israeli official has fiercely criticized U.S. President George Bush's administration for the way it has dealt with the Iranian nuclear issue.

The official said that the administration was not doing what was required of it to create an international coalition and wide agreement to pressure Iran over its nuclear program.

Criticism from senior members of Israel's political echelon with regard to U.S. policy on the matter is rare.

The official mainly spoke out against Bush's failure to enlist support from China, Russia and, to a certain extent, India, for increasing pressure on Iran and North Korea.

According to the official, the Bush administration has insisted on stressing matters such as human rights in China and its policy on Taiwan, and as a result, has neglected to gain its support in the struggle against Iran.

The official added that the approach of the Bush administration has been the same toward Russia - focusing on human rights and on the federation's struggles with Chechnya - thus allowing both China and Russia to take a "negativistic" approach to the Americans.

Meanwhile, Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi called for international pressure on Iran, but said that the IDF recognized the need to prepare in the event that global efforts fail.

"The international community must act with determination to stop the nuclearization of Iran, but should this action not succeed, we in the Israel Defence Forces must prepare for any scenario," Ashkenazi said.

"In the coming years the need to strike at significant long-range targets will become far more important, therefore the capability to act both defensively and offensively against various threats will be upgraded greatly with a strong emphasis on long-range capability," he said without elaborating.