Change Suite

Israel seeks policy change no matter who leads Iran

JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said on Thursday the Jewish state wanted to see Iran’s policy change no matter who emerged as president after a series of street protests over a disputed election.

Israel has played down the chances of seeing any regime change in Tehran despite the demonstrations over hard-liner Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s declared victory over moderate Mirhossein Mousavi in Friday’s presidential poll.

Ahmadinejad has called for Israel’s destruction, remarks Israel often cites as a reason behind its campaign to halt Iran’s nuclear development.

Despite Mousavi’s calls for closer ties with the West, Israelis eye him with concern for his role in initiating Iran’s atomic plans as a prime minister in the 1980s.

Asked by Israel’s Channel 10 television who Israel would prefer to prevail in the Iranian contest, Lieberman replied: “what is preferable for Israel is for there to be a change in Iranian policy.”

He insisted “Iran is much more dangerous” than North Korea, whose recent nuclear weapons tests triggered world alarm.

Lieberman also urged the West to impose stiffer economic sanctions against Iran to halt its nuclear development, similar to the measures pressed against Pyongyang.

The head of Israel’s Mossad spy agency, Meir Dagan, said on Tuesday that Iran may obtain the technology to build an atomic bomb by 2014.

Experts say Israel now has the region’s only nuclear arsenal, a subject on which the Jewish state refuses to comment. Iran says its nuclear project is intended solely to produce electricity.

Writing by Allyn Fisher-Ilan; Editing by Jon Hemming