WASHINGTON - Israel “shall prevail” if forced to fight Iran, “an evil, cruel and morally corrupt regime” bent on controlling the Middle East, Israeli President Shimon Peres said in Washington Sunday.

His speech to a powerful pro-Israel lobby charged up the atmosphere for talks Monday between US President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who will tackle the perceived nuclear threat from Iran.

“Iran is an evil, cruel, morally corrupt regime. It is based on destruction, and is an affront to human dignity,” Peres told thousands of delegates at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) forum. “Iran is the centre, the sponsor, the financer of world terror. Iran is a danger to the entire world,” he said in an address that was to be followed by minutes later by a speech from Obama.

Peres said “all options are on the table,” alluding to the military option, because he said “containment is not a sustainable policy.” “The United States and Israel share the same goal - to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon. There is no space between us. Our message is clear: Iran will not develop a nuclear weapon.”

Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said on Sunday Israel will take any decisions on Iran’s nuclear activities as an “independent state.” “Clearly, the United States is the biggest world power and the biggest and most important country that is a friend of Israel, but we are an independent state,” Lieberman told Israeli public radio. “Ultimately, the state of Israel will take the decisions that are most appropriate based on its evaluation of the situation,” he said.

Lieberman’s comments came shortly before Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is due to hold talks in Washington with US President Barack Obama on Monday, a meeting expected to focus heavily on Iran’s nuclear activities.

Israel, Washington and much of the international community believes that Iran’s nuclear programme masks a weapons drive, a charge Tehran denies.

US intelligence is said to believe that Iran does not currently intend to produce nuclear weapons, though it may be seeking the capacity to do so, and Washington has emphasised the importance of deterrent sanctions and diplomacy.