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Israel Says Iran May Pay `Price' for Stance

Olmert hints at action if efforts to compromise on Tehran's nuclear program are rejected.

October 20, 2006|From the Associated Press

JERUSALEM — Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said Thursday that Iran would have "a price to pay" if it did not back down from its atomic ambitions and hinted that Israel might be forced to take action.

Olmert did not specifically threaten to cripple Iran's nuclear program in a military strike, as Israel did in Iraq 25 years ago, when it bombed an unfinished nuclear reactor. But he repeated what he said a day earlier after meeting Russian President Vladimir V. Putin in Moscow -- the Iranians "have to be afraid" of the consequences of their intransigence.

"They have to understand that if they object to every compromise, there will be a price to pay," Olmert said on a flight home after a three-day trip to Moscow.

Israel rejects Iran's claim that its nuclear program is designed solely to produce energy.

Israel has said it would not lead a campaign against Iran's nuclear program, but would act in concert with world powers that are similarly worried.

But with Iran rejecting various compromise proposals and insisting on enriching uranium -- a process key to developing nuclear fuel or weapons -- Olmert has been raising the stakes. Israel cannot reconcile itself to a nuclear-armed Iran, he said.

"There comes a time when you have to do damage control," Olmert said. "A red line must be drawn that cannot be crossed." He did not elaborate.

"Time isn't standing still," he said, "and perhaps there will be a need to do something in the future."

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