The U.S. has plans in place to attack Iran if necessary to prevent it from developing nuclear weapons, Washington's envoy to Israel said, days ahead of a crucial round of nuclear talks with Tehran.

Dan Shapiro's message has resonated far beyond the closed forum in which it was made — Iran should not test Washington's resolve to act on its promise to strike if diplomacy and sanctions fail to pressure Tehran to abandon its disputed nuclear programme.

Mr. Shapiro told the Israel Bar Association the U.S. hopes it would not have to resort to military force.

“But that doesn't mean that option is not fully available. Not just available, but it's ready,” he said.

“The necessary planning has been done to ensure that it's ready.”

Iran says its nuclear programme is for peaceful purposes, like energy production. The U.S. and Israel suspect Iran is pursuing nuclear weapons, but differences have emerged in how to persuade Tehran to curb its programme.

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