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Israeli army chief says he doubts Iran will build a nuclear weapon

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Iranian President's Office/AP

(Read caption) In this Feb. 15, 2012 file photo, released by the Iranian President's Office, claims to show Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, second left, being escorted by technicians during a tour of Tehran's research reactor center in Iran.

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It's springtime and a young man's fancy turns, yet again, toward thoughts of war with Iran.

But the normally reticent boss of the Israel Defense Forces has just poured cold water on this eventuality. Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz told Israeli newspaper Haaretz in an interview marking that nation's independence day that he doubts Iran is currently seeking a nuclear weapon or that they will eventually decide to pursue one.

To be sure, he insists that a theoretical nuclear weapon in the hands of Iran would be disastrous to Israel and its regional standing, and said he was preparing a credible military option, which he says is crucial for Israel's security.

But he appears to talk the threat of war down from the boiling point, contradicting the rhetoric of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Gantz, who has considerable sway over national policy, proposes that Iran's nuclear program, which the Islamic Republic insists is for peaceful purposes only, is designed to improve the nation's know-how and materials to the point where it could theoretically build a bomb, if it so chooses.

Iran "is going step-by-step to the place where it will be able to decide whether to manufacture a nuclear bomb. It hasn't yet decided whether to go the extra mile," he said.

Will they?

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