Now is the moment for the international community to gear up to bring Iran’s nuclear program to a “swift and decisive end,” Defense Minister Ehud Barak said at the defense establishment’s annual Independence Day ceremony at the Air Force House in Herzliya, which he attended along with other top officials Thursday night.

“Truth be told, the likelihood that Iran will heed international demands to halt the program irreversibly at the current pressure level seems low,” said Barak.

“Confronting Iran’s determination to attain a nuclear weapons capability is not without complications, risks and unpredictable consequences,” he said. “But the same challenge if the regime of the ayatollahs is allowed to achieve that nuclear weapons capability would be far more complicated, risky, and costly in terms of lives and resources. Now is the moment for the entire international community to gear up to put a swift and decisive end to Iran’s nuclear program.”

The defense minister also warned that if Iran were to acquire nuclear capabilities, a nuclear arms race would erupt in the Middle East, with Saudi Arabia, Turkey and post-revolution Egypt – and, worse yet, terrorist organizations – taking part in the proliferation.

Israel Radio quoted Barak as saying that while Israel was conducting a “steady and continuous” dialogue with the United States over the issue of Iran’s nuclear program, the two countries were operating on different timetables.

Israel’s “clocks are operating faster than the United States’,” Barak said – hinting that the Israeli leadership views Iran’s efforts with a deeper sense of urgency, but stressing that the Obama administration understands Israel’s precarious position and its need to make decisions on the matter independently.

Earlier on Thursday, President Shimon Peres told Channel 2 in an interview that “I trust the American president, not just because of his personality and views but because of the interests he represents.”

The president stated that while all-out war was to be avoided, “civilian and military options, neither of them absolute,” were on the table where Iran’s nuclear program was concerned. To that end, he said, Israel possessed “known and unknown” capabilities. He added that while the crisis vis-a-vis Iran constitutes a difficult situation, Israel has faced worse – such as the 1948 war, during which Israel appeared to have been “utterly lost.”