The United States understands Israel's concerns about the threat that would be posed by a nuclear-armed Iran, but remains committed to resolving this issue through diplomacy, the White House said on Friday.
"We are trying to solve this diplomatically," White House spokeswoman Dana Perino told reporters. She was responding to a question about reported comments by Israel's Transport Minister Shaul Mofaz that an Israeli attack on Iranian nuclear sites looks "unavoidable" given the apparent failure of sanctions to deny Tehran nuclear technology with bomb-making potential.
Ahmadinejad committed to nuke program (Photo: AFP)
Asked whether the United States was keeping military options open as a last resort with Iran, she said President George W. Bush had always said he "would never take any options off the table" but that Washington was pursuing multilateral diplomacy.
'All options on table'
Earlier, referring to Iran's nuclear program, a spokesman for Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said that "all options must remain on the table" and added more could be done to put financial pressure on Tehran.
Olmert Spokesman Mark Regev did not address Mofaz's remarks, but noted that "Israel believes strongly that while the UN sanctions are positive, much more needs to be done to pressure the regime in Tehran to cease its aggressive nuclear program."
On Friday, Yedioth Ahronoth reported Mofaz as saying an Israeli attack on Iranian nuclear sites looks "unavoidable" given the apparent failure of sanctions to deny Tehran technology with bomb-making potential.
"If Iran continues with its program for developing nuclear weapons, we will attack it. The sanctions are ineffective," Mofaz said.
"Attacking Iran, in order to stop its nuclear plans, will be unavoidable," said the former army chief who has also been defense minister.
It was the most explicit threat yet against Iran from a member of Olmert's government, which, like the Bush administration, has preferred to hint at force as a last resort should UN Security Council sanctions be deemed a dead end.
Mofaz also said in the interview that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who has called for Israel to be wiped off the map, "would disappear before Israel."
"We believe the international community should be considering further tangible steps such as embargoing refined petroleum headed for Iran, sanctions against Iranian businessmen travelling abroad, tightening the pressure on Iranian financial institutions and other such steps," he added.
Meanwhile, the White House sidestepped questions about the Israeli threat to attack Iranian nuclear sites, saying it would not respond to hypothetical questions.
"The world community, I believe, is united in the desire to make sure that Iran doesn't develop a nuclear weapon and have a severe threat that we don't want to see come to fruition," White House spokesman Scott Stanzel told reporters.
But asked specifically whether the United States would support an Israeli strike on Iran, he said, "I'm not going to talk about hypotheticals. I think we've been pretty clear in recent weeks and months about our approach on Iran."