Israel Won't Attack Iran, Sharon Says

Israel (search) will not mount a unilateral attack aimed at destroying Iran's (search) nuclear capability, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon (search) said, calling for international action instead.

Sharon said he did not see "unilateral action" as an option. Interviewed by a cable news network on Wednesday before wrapping up a trip to the United States, Sharon said Israel did not need to lead the way on the Iran nuclear weapons issue, saying that the issue should be dealt with by an international coalition.

Iran is years away from possessing a nuclear weapon, Sharon said, but he warned that Iran is only months away from solving "technical problems" toward building a nuclear weapon.

Sharon said, "Once they will solve it, that will be the point of no return." He did not give details about the technical issues or how he drew his conclusions.

Sharon said that Iran's acquiring nuclear weapons would be a danger not only for Israel but also for Europe and other countries. Therefore, he said, Israel did not need to tackle the matter by itself.

Iran has denied that it is developing nuclear weapons, explaining that its reactors would be used for peaceful purposes like producing electricity.

Israeli media reported that in his meeting Tuesday with Vice President Dick Cheney, Sharon aides presented evidence, including satellite reconnaissance, about the Iranian nuclear program.

Asked about Israel's own nuclear weapons program, Sharon repeated decades-old Israeli claims: "Israel will not be the first one to use or to possess a nuclear weapon."

He said that Iran should be prevented from acquiring such arms, because "one should avoid development of nuclear weapons by irresponsible countries."

During the funeral for Pope John Paul II at the Vatican on Friday, Israeli President Moshe Katsav shook hands with the presidents of Syria and Iran, but Sharon dismissed the gestures.

Iran and Syria continue to be enemies of Israel, Sharon said.

"If the moderates there (in Iran) speak about the elimination Israel as the Jewish nation, we don't see any changes," he said.