June 13, 2009 / 5:58 PM / 8 years ago

Israeli FM says world must prevent nuclear Iran

JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Israel's foreign minister said Saturday the world must prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear capabilities after the Islamic Republic's hardline President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was re-elected.

"The international community must continue to act uncompromisingly to prevent a nuclear Iran and end its activities that assist terror organizations and destabilize the Middle East," Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said.

In a statement, Lieberman said it did not matter who won the election because "the problem Tehran poses before the international community does not stem from personalities but from policies."

Lieberman's deputy, Danny Ayalon, said earlier: "If there was a shadow of hope for a change in Iran, the renewed choice of Ahmadinejad expresses more than anything the growing Iranian threat."

Ahmadinejad has called for Israel to be wiped off the map and the Jewish state sees Tehran's nuclear aspirations as a threat to its existence.

Israel has said it supports talks with Iran on its nuclear program but believes it should be limited to a set timeframe and has said all options should be kept on the table.

Lieberman said earlier this month Israel had no plans to carry out attacks on Iran.

Six major powers have offered Iran a package of economic and other incentives in exchange for which they want Iran to stop enriching uranium, a process that can produce fuel for power plants or, potentially, a nuclear weapon.

Iran denies it aims to build a nuclear bomb, says it only wants to master enrichment technology to generate electricity and rules out shelving the program, saying that is its right as a member of the Non-Proliferation Treaty.

Israeli cabinet minister Silvan Shalom called on "the United States and the free world to re-evaluate their policies toward Iran regarding its nuclear program," in light of the election results.

Iranian-backed Hamas, the Palestinian Islamist group that seized the Gaza Strip from Western-backed President Mahmoud Abbas in 2007, welcomed Ahmadinejad's victory.

Hamas official Fawzi Barhoum said the group hopes Iran will "continue to support the Palestinian rights and the Palestinian people and continue to respect the Palestinian democratic choice and help us to end the sanctions."

Israel tightened its blockade on the Gaza Strip after Hamas's takeover and launched a devastating three-week offensive in late December against the Islamist group, which refuses to recognize the Jewish state's right to exist.

Writing by Ari Rabinovitch, Editing by Jon Boyle

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