JERUSALEM: Israel's defence minister Ehud Barak has hinted that the Jewish state may take pre-emptive action against Iran to foil its nuclear ambitions in case sanctions against the Islamic Republic fail to deter it.
Addressing a gathering at the Israel Defence Forces' (IDF) National Security College, Barak said his country may have to take "tough and crucial decisions" about its security.
"I am well aware of the difficulties involved in thwarting Iran's attempts to acquire a nuclear weapon... however, it is clear to me without a doubt that dealing with the threat itself will be far more complicated, far more dangerous and far more costly in resources and human life," Barak was quoted as saying by the Haaretz online.
Barak also came upon hard on the Arab Spring which swept away many dictatorial regimes in the region, saying that the events of the movement slowly turned into the "Islamic Summer" and teach Israel that at the moment of truth, it can rely only on itself.
Jerusalem officially maintains that "it is keeping all options open on the table" on Iran and so far, ministers here have avoided issuing direct threats preferring the international diplomatic track.
Meanwhile, Iran's supreme spiritual leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has the final say on all state matters in Iran, on Wednesday voiced confidence that Tehran can beat the latest punitive measures aimed at blocking country's vital oil and banking industries over its disputed nuclear programme.
"They (the West) explicitly say they need to increase pressures, tighten sanctions to force Iranian authorities to reconsider their calculations," Khamenei said during a broadcast on state television.
"But a look at the facts leads us not only to avoid reconsidering our calculations, but to move on our intended path with greater confidence," he emphasised.
The latest European Union sanctions against Iran's vital oil industry came into effect on July 1, three days after the US tightened measures that prohibit international banks from completing oil transactions with Iranian banks.