Sunday, October 30, 2005

UN Holding Talks over Iran's Comments on Israel

The United Nations is holding talks on how to deal with Iran after the country's president called for Israel to be "wiped off the map". UN members are starting informal talks with Kofi Annan, the UN secretary general, who is due to fly out to Iran in the next few weeks.

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad sparked international condemnation last week when he called for Israel to be wiped off the map.

Tony Blair said he was revolted by the remarks and warned they risked persuading people Iran really was a threat to world security.

Iran has also been accused of providing devices to insurgents in Iraq which have been used to attack British soldiers, and there is international concern over its nuclear ambitions.

John Reid, the Defence Secretary, said Iran posed a challenge to the whole world.

Mr Reid said this morning: "The United Nations are, even as we speak today, consulting each other informally at the Security Council level...about what to do about Iran because it is a confrontation which Iran is pushing on the whole world."

He said Iran was a "problem and a challenge" for the international community, not just for Britain and the US. READ MORE

Jack Straw, the Foreign Secretary, has said military action would be inconceivable. But there is renewed speculation after Mr Blair's tough talking.

Mr Reid told the BBC's Sunday AM: "I don't think anybody is speaking about military involvement at any level about the questions we are facing just now. But it is certainly a challenge to the United Nations.

"The informal consultations start today, Kofi Annan is going to Iran in the next few weeks. The International Atomic Energy Authority, on the nuclear question, is meeting on November 24. So all of these international institutions know that they have to really face up to that.

"You cannot have a member of the United Nations developing its own nuclear weapons in complete breach of all of the promises, all of its obligations, and at the same time threatening to wipe out another state of the UN."

Mr Reid said he did not have conclusive proof that the Iranian government was involved in providing devices to insurgents in Iraq. But he said there was evidence of the involvement of Iranian elements.

He added: "Iran has to change its behaviour in terms of support for terrorism, in deceit over nuclear weapons and in terms of its relationship and threats to other members of the international community.

"That is a challenge to the whole world and to the United Nations. It is the United Nations which must face up to that and Kofi Annan has made it plain that it intends to face up to that."