JERUSALEM -- Israeli President Shimon Peres warned on Monday that if Iran becomes a nuclear power it will create a "nightmare" for the whole world and not just the Jewish state.
"Iran is a danger not only for Israel but also for the rest of the world," Peres told foreign journalists.
"A nuclear Iran will be a nightmare for the world," he said at a press conference held ahead of celebrations on Thursday for the 60th anniversary of Israel's independence.
Peres said that Israel, the Middle East's sole if undeclared nuclear power, did not intend to carry out any military action against Iran, like that which it carried out in 1981 against the Osirak nuclear reactor in Saddam Hussein's Iraq.
"There will be no need for military action if the world community is united," he said.
The UN Security Council has imposed three sets of sanctions against Iran over its refusal to heed successive ultimatums to suspend uranium enrichment, the process that can produce fuel for civilian reactors or, in highly extended form, the fissile core of an atomic bomb.
Peres said he saw a "worrying" prospect developing in Iran under President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the combination "of a weapon of mass destruction and a rhetoric of mass destruction."
"Nobody is threatening Iran," he said. "On the other hand, Iran is threatening to wipe Israel off the map."
In his speeches, Ahmadinejad has called for the destruction of the Jewish state although he has never threatened that Iran would try to bring it about.
On the issue of the slow-moving peace process, Peres said Israel had never given up efforts to reach peace accords with its Arab neighbours.
"We would like to see peace all over the Middle East and we are ready to pay the price," said Peres, a veteran statesman whose role in the Oslo peace accords with the Palestinians earned him the 1994 Nobel Peace Prize with Yitzhak Rabin and Yasser Arafat.
But Peres said there should be no dialogue between Israel and Hamas, the Islamist group which controls the Gaza Strip, because it was not prepared to accept the Jewish state's right to exist.