Defense Minister Ehud Barak said Friday the world must quickly stop Iran from reaching the point where even a "surgical" military strike could not block it from obtaining nuclear weapons.
Amid fears that Israel is nearing a decision to attack Iran's nuclear program, Barak said tougher international sanctions are needed against Tehran's oil and banks so that "we all will know early enough whether the Iranians are ready to give up their nuclear weapons program."
Iran insists its atomic program is only aimed at producing energy and research, but has repeatedly refused to consider giving up its ability to enrich uranium.
"We are determined to prevent Iran from turning nuclear. And even the American president and opinion leaders have said that no option should be removed from the table and Iran should be blocked from turning nuclear," Barak told reporters during the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum.
"It seems to us to be urgent, because the Iranians are deliberately drifting into what we call an immunity zone where practically no surgical operation could block them," he said.
Barak called it "a challenge for the whole world" to prevent a nuclear-armed Iran but stopped short of confirming any action that could further stoke Washington's concern about a possible Israeli military strike.
Separately, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon urged a resumption of dialogue between Western powers and Iran on their nuclear dispute.
"The onus is on Iran. They have to prove themselves that their nuclear development program is genuinely for peaceful purposes, which they have not done yet," he said.
Ban expressed concern at the most recent report of the International Atomic Energy Agency that strongly suggested that Iran's nuclear program, which it long has claimed is for development of power generation, has a military intent.
"For now they do not have the capacity to manufacture the fuel," he said. "But in the future, we don't know."
- Receive Ynetnews updates
directly to your desktop