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Thursday, 26 February 2009

Iran nuclear plant test run scares Israel

The Israeli premier Ehud Olmert sends out a warning signal to Iran after the country began a test run of its first nuclear power plant.

"We are a strong country, a very strong country, and we have at our disposal (military) capacities the intensity of which are difficult to imagine," Olmert told public radio on Thursday.

"We have deployed enormous efforts to reinforce our deterrence capacity," Olmert added. "Israel will be able to defend itself in all situations, against all threats, against all enemies. I cannot say more but believe me, I know what I'm talking about."

The remarks came after Iran announced Wednesday that despite intense international pressure over the country's nuclear program it has launched the test-stage of its first nuclear power plant in the southern port of Bushehr.

The United States and Israel and their allies accuse Iran of having a covert nuclear weapons program. Iran contends that it only seeks to produce nuclear energy and its program is civilian in nature.

Israel -- which is the sole possessor of a nuclear warhead in the Middle East -- considers Iran's nuclear program as an existential threat to its security and has repeatedly threatened to militarily take out Iranian nuclear infrastructure.

Benjamin Netanyahu, the hawk set to form the next Israeli government, said earlier that Iran is the top challenge facing Israel.

"Iran is seeking to arm itself with nuclear weapons and is the most serious threat to our existence since the war of independence" in 1948, Netanyahu said. More