Iran no threat to Israel: Mossad chief

Jerusalem, Dec 30 (IANS) A nuclear Iran would not necessarily post an 'existential' threat to Israel, head of the Israeli spy agency Mossad, Tamir Pardo, has said.

Pardo was addressing a group of some 100 ambassadors and envoys at the foreign ministry in Jerusalem.

He said Israel has means to thwart Teheran's aspirations to fire up a nuclear reactor that many in the west believe is part of a clandestine bid to build atomic weapons.

Pardo, however, according to those present at the year-end event Tuesday, called into question the use of the term 'existential', according to the Ha'aretz daily Thursday.

'What is the significance of the term existential threat?' Pardo said, asking rhetorically, 'Does Iran pose a threat to Israel? Absolutely.

'But if one said a nuclear bomb in Iranian hands was an existential threat, that would mean that we would have to close up shop and go home.

'That's not the situation. The term existential threat is used too freely,' he said.

Pardo's contention was, however, not shared by some other Israeli officials, notably Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who considers a nuclear-armed Iran a threat.

Addressing the same event, Netanyahu said that western nations were not going far enough in imposing 'crippling sanctions', to convince Iran to halt it's nuclear drive.

Meanwhile, Washington together with Israel is preparing so- called 'red lines' for determining when to strike militarily against Iran, according to a report in the online political magazine, The Daily Beast.

American officials said they hoped the co-planning would reassure Israel 'that the administration had its own 'red lines' that would trigger military action against Iran, and that there is no need for Jerusalem to act unilaterally,' according to a Pentagon spokesman.