Israeli officials said the time was near to consider a military strike on Iran.
"Today, unlike the past, the world has no doubt that Iran’s nuclear program is steadily nearing readiness and is about to enter an ‘immunity zone," Ehud Barak, the defense minister, said Thursday at the Herzliya Conference at the Interdisciplinary Center's conference, in remarks reported by Bloomberg News.
The 'immunity zone' refers to the point beyond which military experts believe it will be impossible to slow Iran's nuclear program with a strike.
"Today, unlike in the past, there is widespread global understanding that if the sanctions don’t achieve their goal of halting Iran’s nuclear weapons program, there will arise the need of weighing an operation."
The Washington Post, reporting on the same speech, said Barak switched from Hebrew to English to emphasize: "Later is too late."
Bloomberg quoted Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz, the Israeli military chief of staff, as telling the same conference that Israel "must be willing to deploy" to stop such a program.
Washington Post columnist David Ignatius, not citing sources, reported Thursday that U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta believes Israel will strike Iran in April, May or June. Panetta would not comment when reporters asked him about Ignatius' report.