Israel Wary of Iran Nuclear Progress

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JERUSALEM, Israel - After a week in which Iran inaugurated a new nuclear facility, U.S. Vice President Joe Biden said Israel would be "ill-advised" to launch an attack on Iran.

Evem as the United States said it would join nuclear talks with Iran in Geneva this weekend, leaders in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's new government face a heavy burden in dealing with dwindling international support and an increasingly limited time frame for stopping Iran's nuclear progress.

New revelations that North Korea may have smuggled uranium into Iran only add to the concern.

Israel's response to the developments has been muted, partly because of the Passover holiday and partly because it may be wiser to express concerns in private, rather than through press conferences and headlines in the newspapers and on the Internet.

The Israeli newspaper Ha'aretz quotes a leading source in the Netanyahu government who says Israel has no objection to U.S. talks with Iran, as long as Iran doesn't use the talks to its advantage.

But given Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's past exploitation of international conferences and his defiance in the face of international warnings, it is highly likely that Israeli officials are preparing for Ahmadinejad to maximize his advantage over his adversaries in the West.

Reports of possible North Korean nuclear assistance to Iran were published Thursday in the Japanese newspaper Nikkei.

Intelligence officials are said to be investigating whether a ship that traveled from North Korea to Iran in December was transporting dozens of tons or enriched uranium to Iran.

One western intelligence source says the ship traveled through the Indian Ocean, and the uranium was taken to a location near Teheran.

Sources: The Jerusalem Post, Ha'aretz, Nikkei

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