JERUSALEM (AFP) - The head of Israel's Mossad spy agency has said a nuclear Iran might not pose an "existential threat" to the Jewish state, in remarks reported Thursday by Haaretz newspaper.

"Does Iran pose a threat to Israel? Absolutely," the daily quoted Mossad chief Tamir Pardo as telling a group of Israeli ambassadors. "But if one said a nuclear bomb in Iranian hands was an existential threat, that would mean that we would have to close up shop and go home. That's not the situation. The term 'existential threat' is used too freely," he said. His remarks, which were made on Tuesday, stood in contrast to the position of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu which was laid out two months ago in remarks at the opening of the parliament's winter session. "A nuclear Iran would pose a dire threat to the Middle East and to the entire world," he told MPs. "And of course, it poses a grave, direct threat to us too."