WASHINGTON, Aug. 7 (Xinhua) -- Michael Oren, Israel's ambassador to the U.S., warned Tuesday that "time is short" for diplomacy to remove Iran's nuclear threat.
In an op-ed article published in the Wall Street Journal, Oren said Israel believes that Iran "is far from forfeiting its nuclear ambitions."
"Our conviction is based on Iran's record of subterfuge and terror together with its genocidal rhetoric," Oren wrote, referring to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's remarks about the "annihilation of the Zionist regime."
Dubbing Iran "the world's leading state sponsor of terror," Oren warned that if Iran acquired nuclear weapons, "it can commit incalculable atrocities anywhere in the world, beginning with Israel."
He said Israel sounded the alarm about Iran's nuclear ambitions as early as 20 years ago, but the international community wasted about 18 years before imposing serious economic sanctions on Iran.
Tehran has so far amassed some 225 pounds of 20-percent uranium and 11,000 pounds of 3.5-percent uranium, sufficient for making five nuclear bombs.
The Israeli envoy said that because the five permanent members of the UN Security Council and Germany have so far failed to negotiate a compromise, Iran is expected to buy more time to install additional centrifuges to produce more uranium that would be hidden inside fortified bunkers beyond Israel's reach.
A combination of truly crippling sanctions and a credible military threat may still convince Iran to relinquish its nuclear dreams "but time is dwindling ... The window opened 20 years ago is now almost shut," Oren wrote.
The envoy also implied that Israel could act alone in launching attacks on Iran as U.S. President Barack Obama has affirmed Israel's right "to defend itself by itself against any threat."
However, Oren said, Israel will do so "only after exhausting all reasonable diplomatic means."
Despite Israel's pressure to seek military action, the Obama administration remains reluctant to get involved in an unpredictable military conflict with Iran in an election year and prefers crippling economic sanctions to dissuade Tehran from seeking nuclear weapons.