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Israel Welcomes Iran Nuclear Talks, But 'Military Option' Remains

A woman walks past writing on a wall in Persian that says "Down with Israel" in northern Tehran.
Israel has cautiously welcomed the possible resumption of international talks on Iran's nuclear program, but says it will not abandon other options.

Israel's security chief, Yaakov Amidror, told Israeli public radio on March 7 he was "very happy" talks may resume between Iran and six world powers.

But he said Israel must "prepare" for talks to fail, and said the threat of an Israeli military strike was key to persuading Tehran to renounce its nuclear program.

Amidror's remarks follow an announcement on March 6 that Iran and the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany will return to negotiations.

The step appears to ease tensions over Israel's threat to launch air strikes on Iranian nuclear facilities to prevent Iran from developing atomic weapons.

Iran says its nuclear program has no military component.

Meanwhile, the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas said it wouldn't strike Israel if there was an armed conflict between Iran and the Jewish state.

Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said the group didn't have the ability to be "part of any regional war."

Senior Hamas leader Ahmed Yousef has rejected as "nonsense" Israeli claims that the movement would fire dozens of rockets at Israel in any war with Iran.

Hamas, which has been ruling the Gaza Strip since 2007, is a longtime ally of Iran.

But analysts say their relations have deteriorated in recent weeks, following the Islamist movement's refusal to openly support the embattled regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, another Iranian ally.

With AP, Reuters, AFP, and dpa reporting