Israeli general says “all options” needed on Iran

All options “should remain on the table” to force Iran to stop its nuclear program, Israel’s top general said on Tuesday during a visit to New York.

Gabi Ashkenazi, chief of staff of Israel’s armed forces, said Iran was the main threat to world peace and accused the Islamic Republic of trying to create instability in the Middle East by funding and equipping militants.

“These reflect the Iranian attempts to harvest regional instability through its proxies — Hezbollah, Hamas and other terrorist organizations,” Ashkenazi told a dinner hosted by the Friends of the Israeli Defense Forces.

“Therefore the international community must stop the Iranian nuclear program for its own sake, while all options should remain on the table,” he said at the event, which drew about 100 pro-Palestinian protesters.

In November, an Israeli official said Ashkenazi told a parliamentary panel that Israel was readying all options to try to force Iran to halt its nuclear program and had suggested diplomatic or economic sanctions may also help.

During a visit to Israel on Tuesday, U.S. Vice President Joe Biden said the United States was working with many countries to convince Tehran through diplomacy that it should not acquire nuclear weapons.

But world powers are mindful of Israel’s threats to attack its enemy pre-emptively as a last resort.

Israel, believed to be the Middle East’s only nuclear power, has called for sanctions to cripple Iran’s trade in oil and gas. Iran says its nuclear program is solely for power generation, denying accusations that it is seeking to develop a nuclear weapon.

(Editing by John O’Callaghan)