Washington: President Barack Obama has said that he would order the US military to destroy Iran's nuclear programme as a final option, if economic sanctions fail to compel Tehran to shelve its nuclear ambitions.

"I don't bluff," Obama said delivering his most explicit threat to Tehran to keep away from nuclear, warning that "all options are on the table" and that the final option is the "military component."

At the same time, the US president also warned Israel against a premature attack on Iran, cautioning Tel Aviv that any hasty military attack might inadvertently help Tehran to portray itself as "victim".

The tough comments yet on the Iranian nuclear issue came ahead of his meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

"I also don't, as a matter of sound policy, go around advertising exactly what our intentions are. But I think both the Iranian and the Israeli governments recognise that when the United States says it is unacceptable for Iran to have a nuclear weapon, we mean what we say," Obama told 'The Atlantic' magazine in an interview last night.

"I think that the Israeli government recognises that, as president of the United States, I don't bluff." (More) AKD

Obama said Iran and Israel both understand that "a military component" is among a mix of many options for dealing with Iran, along with sanctions and diplomacy, making plain a threat to attack that had previously been more subtly implied.

"At a time when there is not a lot of sympathy for Iran and its only real ally (Syria) is on the ropes, do we want a distraction in which suddenly Iran can portray itself as a
 victim?," he said.

Israel has maintained that all options remain on the table with regard to action on Iran, including a preemptive military strike on Iranian nuclear installations.

Obama also rejected as unreasonable a more limited policy of containment in confronting Iran's nuclear efforts.

"You're talking about the most volatile region in the world," he said. "It will not be tolerable to a number of states in that region for Iran to have a nuclear weapon and them not to have a nuclear weapon. Iran is known to sponsor terrorist organisations, so the threat of proliferation becomes that much more severe."

He also said that the US and EU sanctions against the Iranian regime are starting to bite.