Thursday, May 18, 2006

Churches: Iran must recognize Israel

Jerusalem Post:
The World Council of Churches called on Iran Thursday to halt its uranium enrichment program and recognize the state of Israel.

The Geneva-based WCC, which groups more than 350 Protestant, Orthodox and related churches, urged Iran's government to "fully comply and cooperate with the International Atomic Energy Agency and Security Council directives and requests" on its nuclear program.

The WCC also asked the international community, particularly UN Security Council members, to solve the problems surrounding Iran's nuclear activities "through multilateral diplomatic means."

A resolution of the current controversy should also include commitments to address Iran's security needs and normalize its relations with the United States and its neighbors, the WCC said in a statement.

Iran must also accept and recognize the state of Israel within its 1967 borders and support international efforts against terrorism, it added.

Meanwhile, the United States proposed that the 65-nation Conference on Disarmament negotiate a new treaty banning production of the nuclear material needed to make atomic bombs.

Stephen G. Rademaker, acting US assistant secretary of state for arms control, told the body that developments of nuclear programs in North Korea and Iran showed that it was time for a rapid agreement on a treaty to ban production of plutonium and highly enriched uranium, known as "fissile material."

"The treaty text that we are putting forward contains the essential provisions that would comprise a successful legally binding FMCT," or Fissile Material Cutoff Treaty, said Rademaker. READ MORE

"It bans ... the production of fissile material for use in nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices," he said.

Rademaker said the proposal had widespread support and would give the conference a positive role for the first time since it completed the ban on nuclear bomb testing 10 years ago.

"The only possible avenue for progress in this conference is to concentrate its efforts on the one topic on which we most likely will be able to take action," he said.

But Hamid Eslamizad, a senior official at Iran's mission in Geneva, stressed that his country's uranium enrichment program was entirely peaceful.

Eslamizad said that US criticism of Iran's nuclear activities was reminiscent of similar, incorrect allegations that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, a move which led to invasion.