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Iran, Israel step up showdown at UN

Iran’s foreign minister speaks out day after Israel’s Prime Minister calls for a ‘red line’ to stop Iran getting nuclear bomb
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First Published: Sat, Sep 29 2012. 02 10 AM IST
Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Photo: Andrew Burton/Reuters
Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Photo: Andrew Burton/Reuters
United Nations: Iran and Israel stepped up their nuclear tensions Friday with Iran’s foreign minister calling for United Nations (UN) Security Council action over the killings of nuclear scientists he blames on Israel.
Iran’s foreign minister Ali Akbar Salehi spoke out at the UN General Assembly a day after Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called on the international community for a “clear red line” to stop Iran getting a nuclear bomb.
Netanyahu was to speak with US President Barack Obama on Friday with Iran’s nuclear drive at the center of the telephone talks.
Without naming Israel or the US, which Iran has accused of staging the killings of four atomic scientists, Salehi said Iran had been a victim of “nuclear terrorism”.
Salehi said the Security Council, which has passed four rounds of sanctions against Iran’s uranium enrichment, should stop using nuclear weapons fears “as a pretext to act as a legislative body”.
The council should “utilize its authority to act against those states undertaking cyber attacks and sabotage in the peaceful nuclear facilities and kill nuclear scientists of other countries”, Salehi told a UN General Assembly meeting on nuclear terrorism.
“Any such act committed by a state, as certain countries continue to commit such crimes in my country, is a manifestation of nuclear terrorism and consequently a grave violation of the principles of UN Charter and international law,” Salehi added.
The US has denied involvement in the killings of four Iranian scientists since 2010. Israel has refused to comment on the killings.
According to US media, the US and Israel were behind the Stuxnet computer virus that temporarily crippled Iran’s uranium enrichment at its Natanz plant.
Israel’s Netanyahu launched a fierce onslaught against Iran at the General Assembly on Thursday, warning that it could be ready to build a nuclear bomb in less than a year. Salehi reaffirmed Iran’s denial that it seeks an atomic weapon.
The Israeli Prime Minister used a cartoon drawing of a bomb with the fuse lit to put his red line through Iran’s nuclear programme and demand a limit on its uranium enrichment.
He did not threaten a unilateral attack, but said Iran’s uranium enrichment plants were a credible “target”.
“At this late hour, there is only one way to peacefully prevent Iran from getting atomic bombs—and that’s by placing a clear red line on Iran’s nuclear weapons programme,” Netanyahu told the 193-member UN assembly.
“The red line must be drawn on Iran’s nuclear enrichment programme because these enrichment facilities are the only nuclear installations that we can definitely see and credibly target.”
He said Iran could have enough enrichment uranium in the next 12 months to move on to the final stage of making a bomb. “From there, it’s only a few months, possibly a few weeks, before they get enough enriched uranium for the first bomb.”
“Faced with a clear red line, Iran will back down,” Netanyahu added. “Red lines don’t lead to war, red lines prevent war.”
Iran sent a diplomat to the UN assembly to warn that it would “retaliate with full force” against any attack and to demand that the international community “exert pressure on this regime to end all this irresponsible behaviour.”
While Israel has warned that it could carry out a military strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities, the US is part of a six-nation group which has approved sanctions against Iran while pursuing diplomatic talks on its program.
The group—which also includes Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany—met on Thursday and warned that the Islamic state must “urgently” act to ease international fears about its nuclear programme.
But European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said she would talk with Iranian negotiators to see if new talks are to be held. AFP
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First Published: Sat, Sep 29 2012. 02 10 AM IST
More Topics: Iran | Israel | United Nations | nuclear weapons |