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Israel 'undecided on Iran attack'

US president Barack Obama has moved to calm growing fears among world leaders of an imminent Israeli attack on Iran.

Mr Obama said he did not think Israel had decided whether to attack Iran over its disputed nuclear programme, a stand-off that has the Middle East on edge.

The president sought to assure allies and foes alike that the United States was working with Israel to solve the crisis, "hopefully diplomatically".

Mr Obama's comments come as Israel's major allies in the West are working hard to talk the Jewish state out of a unilateral military strike on Iran's nuclear facilities, arguing forcefully that an attack would ultimately only strengthen the regime in Tehran.

Israel fears that Iran is fast approaching a point at which a limited military strike would no longer be enough to head off an Iranian bomb.

"I don't think that Israel has made a decision on what they need to do," Mr Obama said during a pre-Super Bowl interview with NBC television.

He reiterated that the United States had removed no option from consideration in dealing with Iran - an allusion to military intervention - but emphasised that the United States wanted a diplomatic solution built around a world coalition.

Iran insists its nuclear pursuits are for peaceful civilian purposes only. However after years of worries about Iran's nuclear programme, world leaders are now showing real concern that Israel could attack the Islamic republic imminently - a move that might trigger a broader war and disrupt the international economy.

Iran's regime has said it wants to extinguish the Jewish state and the West accuses it of assembling the material and know-how to build a nuclear bomb.

Just last week, US defence secretary Leon Panetta would not dispute a report that he believed Israel may attack Iran this spring in an attempt to set back its nuclear progress. Mr Obama refused to say whether the United States would get notice from Israel before any potential strike on Iran.


From Belfast Telegraph