Peres: Talk of IDF attack on Iran is 'not true'
U.S. Defense Secretary tells Marine Corps students that military action would only spur hatred of Israel.
President Shimon Peres on Thursday dismissed speculations that Israel is planning to attack Iran over its contentious nuclear program.
Peres told visiting U.S. special Mideast envoy George Mitchell that the key to containing Iran's nuclear ambitions would not be found in a military realm.
"All the talk about a possible attack by Israel on Iran is not true," said Peres. "The solution in Iran is not military."
He said that progress with Iran depended on international cooperation and exploring whether dialogue presented a real opportunity or if Tehran was just stalling, according to a statement from Peres' office.
During their talks, Mitchell assured Peres that the U.S. is committed to Israel's security as well as a two-state solution. The U.S. envoy is plannning to meet later Thursday with Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
The president's remarks came days after U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates declared that an Israeli attack would not end Tehran's nuclear ambitions, in a report released by the U.S. Army Times.
Gates told U.S. Marine Corps students in Quantico, VA that the use of military action would only unify the divisive elements in Iran and enflame hatred toward Israel.
He said such a move might delay the nuclear program from one to three years, but would also "cement [Iran's] determination to have a nuclear program, and also build into the whole country an undying hatred of whoever hits them," according to the Army Times.
Gates added that Tehran's nuclear ambitions could only be stopped if "Iranians themselves decide it's too costly."
In his address to Marines students, Gates suggested that non-military measures should be increased to apply pressure to Iran to drop the program, saying the U.S. needs "to look at every way we can to increase the cost of that program to them, whether it's through economic sanctions or other things."
Gates also called on the international community to assist efforts to convince Iran that a nuclear weapon would negatively affect their security "particularly if it launches an arms race in the Middle East."
Meanwhile, the U.S. administration will seek to persuade Israel that progress in reaching a regional peace treaty will also have an impact on efforts to contain Iran's nuclear ambitions.