Israel will not consider unilateral action to stop Iran getting a nuclear bomb, President Shimon Peres was quoted as saying on Saturday.
In an interview with France's Le Figaro newspaper ahead of a trip to Paris next week, Peres said, however, if economic sanctions failed to persuade Iran to stop its contested nuclear program then "non-military options would be used up."
The United Nations has imposed sanctions on Iran to pressure it to suspend uranium enrichment. The United States and other major powers suspect Iran is enriching uranium as part of a covert effort to develop a nuclear bomb. Iran says it is only interested in civilian nuclear energy.
"I would prefer to stop the development of the bomb without recourse to war. Sanctions have proved their efficacy in the past," Peres said, citing decisions by Libya, South Africa and North Korea to renounce nuclear plans.
Asked if Israel would act alone to stop Iran getting the bomb, Peres, a former prime minister who currently holds no executive power, replied: "Under no circumstance. We are not so imprudent as to concentrate the Iranian danger on Israel."
"It's a problem that the rest of the world must resolve. With the long-range missiles developed by Iran the problem is not only Israeli," Peres added.
He accused Iran of seeking outposts in Lebanon, Gaza, Syria and Iraq. "We mustn't close our eyes. If a minority of terrorists are able to equip themselves with nuclear missiles then the world could become ungovernable."
Peres defended Israel's attack last week on Gaza to stop missiles being fired at its territory. "If we know that someone is preparing to launch a missile against our territory we will target them to stop it happening," he said.