Text size

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned on Tuesday that Iran's nuclear program posed a threat not just to Israel, but to the entire world, during a visit to a submarine that underscored Israel's military might.

"The threat that Iran poses is very grave for the state of Israel, for peace in the Middle East and the whole world," Netanyahu said aboard a missile ship.

"Without any doubt, we are the first target, but not the last."

Iran insists its nuclear program is for civilian purposes only, but Israel and the West suspect it is aimed at manufacturing atomic weapons.

The missile ship, the INS Eilat, led a raid earlier this month on a vessel loaded with arms that Israel says were bound for Iranian-backed foes in Lebanon. Israel says the arms came from Iran, a charge Lebanon's Hezbollah guerrillas have denied.

There has been much speculation that Israel might carry out a military strike against the Iranian nuclear program because the country fears it would be a target. Israeli leaders say they prefer to resolve the standoff with Iran through diplomacy, but have not ruled out a military strike.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad repeatedly has made references to Israel's destruction.

After complimenting the sailors, Netanyahu got off the INS Eilat and stepped onto a dinghy to visit the elite navy base whose commandos captured the Francop arms vessel off the Cyprus coast last month.