"A nuclear Iran is without a doubt the main threat to world order and may lead to mass nuclear proliferation in the entire Middle East," Defense Minister Ehud Barak said.
"Iran may become an existential threat to Israel," he told a gathering of senior IDF officers on Sunday.
"Should Iran obtain nuclear weapons, the sense of security among elements that are affiliated with (the Islamic Republic) will increase immensely, and this will lead to the collapse of the non-proliferation regime and the struggle against nuclear armament in the region."
During the conference, held at the Central Command's training base with the participation of all IDF officers holding the rank of brigadier-general and higher, IDF Chief Gabi Ashkenazi said that in 2009 Israel is expected to face complex security challenges that demand a high level of preparedness and the preservation of Israel's "qualitative advantage."
In a rare appearance before IDF officers, Bank of Israel Governor Stanley Fischer spoke of the global economic meltdown and its effect on Israel.