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“They are not there yet,” Mr. Meridor said.

He said Israel hopes that international political and economic pressure will persuade Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, whom he called a “madman,” to abandon his goal. However, he added, if that fails, Israel retains “an option.”

“An option [that] is on the table is they will not be allowed to have nuclear weapons,” the ambassador said, adding that Israel prefers not to specify what action it would take.

“I hope you will forgive me for not sharing that,” he said.

New ambassadors

President Bush this week nominated new ambassadors to Africa.

He selected Mark Green, a lawyer and former Republican congressman from Wisconsin, to serve in Tanzania and Wanda Nesbitt, a career Foreign Service officer, for the Ivory Coast.

{bullet} Call Embassy Row at 202/636-3297, fax 202/832-7278 or e-mail jmorrison@