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Israel army chief rules out early strike on Iran


JERUSALEM, Dec 29 (AFP): Israeli chief of staff General Dan Halutz Thursday ruled out the the prospect of a pre-emptive strike against Iran's nuclear installations in the near future.
"I don't think that a military intervention against Iran's nuclear installations should be necessary in the short term," Halutz told army radio.
"There is no threat to the existence of the state of Israel as long as Iran does not possess nuclear arms."
Israeli politicians and military commanders have recently stepped up warnings about Iran, which the Jewish state and the United States accuse of trying to develop a nuclear arsenal. Iran denies the charge, saying its nuclear programme is merely designed to meet energy needs.
Israeli fears were heightened when Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in October called for the Jewish state to be "wiped off the map."
Meir Dagan, the head of the Mossad overseas intelligence agency, told MPs earlier this week that Iran will be able to build an atom bomb within two years.
Halutz however said he did not believe Iran would actually complete manufacturing a bomb "before the start of the next decade."