Friday, May 13, 2005

Israel Warns Iran Over Nuke Threat

Agence France-Presse and Reuters:
The Israeli chief of staff issued a veiled warning today to Iran over its pursuit of a controversial nuclear program. "Israel has always found the means to respond to threats ... I hope that pressure being put on Iran will be effective," General Moshe Yaalon was quoted as saying on army radio when asked about the Islamic republic's nuclear program.

A top Iranian nuclear official announced earlier today that Tehran could soon announce a resumption of a "noticeable part" of uranium conversion work, part of the process used to produce nuclear fuel for power generation or the explosive core of an atomic bomb.

France, Britain and Germany warned Iran they will break off EU talks and join Washington in seeking UN Security Council action if Tehran makes good on its threats to resume atomic work.

The foreign ministers of the European Union's three biggest powers sent a strongly worded letter to Hassan Rohani, Iran's chief nuclear negotiator, warning that resuming potentially arms-related nuclear work "would bring the negotiating process to an end", an EU diplomat quoted the letter as saying.

"The consequences could only be negative for Iran," it said.

Iran, insisting on its "right" to possess nuclear technology for peaceful purposes, warned that mounting pressure could undermine its commitment to the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) - the cornerstone of the global effort to stop the spread of nuclear weapons.

Israeli arch-enemy Iran has always denied that it is pursuing a nuclear weapons prgram.

Mr Yaalon's declaration came the same day as Israeli Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom said Iran would be able to produce a nuclear bomb in "six to nine months time". READ MORE

It came a day after Defence Minister Shaul Mofaz said he doubted that talks between Iran and the European Union would stop Tehran from developing nuclear weapons.

"I do not think the dialogue taken on by the European troika can halt Iran's course towards atomic weapons," Mr Mofaz said.

What would stop the Iranians, he said, would be for the UN Security Council to impose sanctions on Tehran and implement "precise and detailed checks" of Iranian nuclear installations.

Israeli aircraft attacked and destroyed an Iraqi nuclear installation at Osirak, outside Baghdad, in 1981.

On March 22, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said Israel had no intention of launching a strike against Iranian nuclear installations.