Peres - GPO
President Shimon Peres. Photo by GPO
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President Shimon Peres said Thursday that an Iranian regime with nuclear weapons would be a "catastrophe", and stressed that Israel has the right to defend itself.

Peres' statements come after Haaretz reported earlier Thursday that the president is expected to tell U.S. President Barack Obama next month that he does not believe Israel should attack Iran in the near future.

Israel is an independent country and has the right to defend itself against dangers, Peres said during a speech before the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations in Jerusalem.

Peres said that a nuclear Iran would be a catastrophe and noted that if Iran would attain a nuclear weapon it would be impossible to prevent it from exporting terror freely or stop it from controlling the world economy.

Since early Thursday morning, Peres has received messages from officials close to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak expressing surprise at the report that Peres was due to voice objection to Israeli attack on Iran.

Officials close to Netanyahu said that the prime minister "was surprised to see Peres' comments in the newspaper."

Peres, apparently, decided to use his speech on Thursday afternoon to attempt to clarify the issue.

"When we say that all options are on the table on Iran, we really mean it," he said.

Earlier, Lieberman also spoke to the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, and said any public statements on the Iranian issue are unnecessary and harmful.

"The discussions and decisions on Iran must be left for the appropriate forums," Lieberman said.

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