OSLO, Norway (AP) – Nobel peace laureate and U.N. nuclear watchdog agency chief Mohamed ElBaradei appeared to warn Israel not to bomb Iranian atomic facilities in a newspaper interview published Saturday.
"You cannot use force to prevent a country from obtaining nuclear weapons. By bombing them half to death, you can only delay the plans," ElBaradei was quoted as saying by the respected Oslo newspaper Aftenposten. "But they will come back, and they will demand revenge."
ElBaradei was in the Norwegian capital to accept the Nobel Peace Prize awarded jointly to him and the International Atomic Energy Agency.
The report said ElBaradei did not mention Israel but it was clear he was referring to the Jewish state”s increasingly open discussion over whether to protect itself by bombing Iranian facilities it suspects are being used in a possible secret nuclear weapons program.
The report was in line with what ElBaradei said at a news conference in Oslo on Friday, that military force was not a solution to world concerns about the Iranian nuclear weapons program and could be counterproductive.
In Israel, Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz said he was not interested in discussing the issue.
"We have made it clear that the policy of the state of Israel is to put the Iran issue to the Security Council and that the diplomatic channel is the proper one to deal with this matter at this time," he said on Israeli Radio.
ElBaradei and the IAEA have been seeking a negotiated settlement with Iran, in which inspections could prove whether it was still attempting to develop nuclear weapons.
On Friday, he said it was too early to bring the matter to the U.N. Security Council, but that the next few months would be crucial.
Israel has been expanding its military arsenal to deal with what it considers the key threat to its existence: a nuclear attack by Iran. Although Israel says there are no short-term plans for an attack, senior officials have begun openly discussing the option.
Tensions between Iran and Israel stem from the 1979 Islamic Revolution, when Israel sided with the United States in supporting the Shah of Iran before he was deposed.