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Netanyahu Sidesteps Questions On Attacking Iran


U.S. President Barack Obama greets Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (left) and Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas at a trilateral meeting in New York on September 22.

U.S. President Barack Obama greets Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (left) and Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas at a trilateral meeting in New York on September 22.

NEW YORK (Reuters) -- Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gave no clue in a series of U.S. television interviews whether Israel might opt to attack Iran if world pressure failed to curb Tehran's nuclear program.

"I'm not going to deal in hypotheticals," he replied when asked about the possibility of an Israeli strike in separate appearances on the ABC, CNN, and Fox networks.

He said that Israel, like any other country, reserved the right of self-defense and reaffirmed his support for U.S. President Barack Obama's position that all options were on the table in dealing with Iran.

Netanyahu, who met earlier in New York with Obama and Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas on restarting Middle East peace negotiations, repeated in the interviews a call for stronger international sanctions on Iran.

"I think the important thing is to recognize that Iran's ambitions to acquire or develop nuclear weapons is a threat, not only to Israel, but to the entire world," Netanyahu said on CNN's "The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer."

"I'm hopeful and I would like to believe that the international community understands that Iran has to be pressed strongly," he said. "There are ways of pressing this regime right now, because it's weak. It's weaker than people think. It doesn't enjoy the support of its own people."

Netanyahu is likely to focus on Iran's nuclear ambitions in a speech to the UN General Assembly on September 24. He has said a nuclear Iran would pose an existential threat to Israel.

Iran says its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes. It has agreed to start talks on October 1 with world powers on the dispute. Israel, which destroyed an Iraqi nuclear reactor in an air strike in 1981, is widely believed to be the Middle East's only nuclear power.
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