(GUARDIAN) — Israel’s defence minister Ehud Barak restated the case for a military strike on Iran’s nuclear programme before it reaches the “immunity zone”, dismissing criticism from the country’s former intelligence chief that political leaders were misleading the public over the consequences of action.

“I believe it is well understood in Washington, as well as in Jerusalem, that as long as there is an existential threat to our people, all options to prevent Iran from getting nuclear weapons should remain on the table,” Barak told a meeting of the Foreign Press Association.

But in a clear reference to former Shin Bet chief Yuval Diskin’s comments, he added: “Parts of the world, including some politically motivated Israeli figures, prefer to bury their heads in the sand.”

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