Israel: Nuclear Iran could deter military action

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JERUSALEM (AP) -- A senior Israeli military official says a nuclear Iran could make it tougher for Israel to act against enemies closer to home.

Military planning division chief Maj. Gen. Amir Eshel says a nuclear-armed Tehran could constrain Israel from striking Iranian-backed Islamists groups in Lebanon and Gaza -- Hezbollah and Hamas respectively.

Eshel said Tuesday that if Israel is "forced to do things in Gaza or in Lebanon, under the Iranian nuclear umbrella it might be different."

Israel worries that a nuclear-armed Iran could threaten its survival and has hinted it could strike Iran militarily if international sanctions do not halt Tehran's nuclear program.

Iran says its program is for peaceful purposes, such as energy and the production of medical isotopes.