JERUSALEM, Feb. 25 (Xinhua) -- Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak said on Wednesday that Israel will not rule out any option regarding the Iranian nuclear program.
His remarks came hours after the report that Iran launched a test run of its first nuclear power plant built by a Russian contractor near the southern Iranian port city of Bushehr.
Addressing at the Inter-Disciplinary Center (IDC) Herzliya on Wednesday evening, Barak warned that Iran's latest nuclear development constituted another stage in the emergence of an existential threat.
"Time is slipping through our fingers, and what is needed is a two-pronged course of action which includes iron clad, strenuous sanctions against the Iranian regime and a readiness to consider options in the event that these sanctions do not succeed," the defense minister was quoted by the website of local daily Ha'aretzas saying.
"We recommend that others don't rule out any option either. A dialogue with Iran should be defined and limited in time," Barak added.
Meanwhile, Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor responded that the testing near Bushehr reflected the "Iranians are showing again that they are making progress in their nuclear race."
"This should be understood as very bad news for the whole of the international community," Palmor said, calling for "immediate and very determined steps in order to prevent Iran from becoming a nuclear power."
Israel regards Iran as its biggest threat, given Tehran's nuclear program and repeated statements by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and other Iranian leaders that the Jewish state should be erased off the map.
Earlier Wednesday, Gholamreza Aghazadeh, head of Iran's Atomic Energy Organization, said that Iran has not changed its nuclear plan and will continue to install more centrifuges.
"Currently we have 6,000 running centrifuges in Natanz and we will increase our activities to install more by the end of next year (March 2010, Iranian year)," Aghazadeh said during a joint press conference with Sergei Kiriyenko, head of Russia's Rosatom state nuclear energy corporation.
"Our plan to install and run centrifuges is not based on political conditions. We have a plan and we will go ahead with it," he added.
The 1,000-megawatt nuclear power plant, which had been scheduled for operation in 2007, is expected to be put in use by the end of this year after repeated delays.
Israel, as well as the United States and some European countries, have been suspecting that Iran is seeking to build nuclear weapons. But Iran rejected such allegation and said its nuclear program is for civilian purposes only.