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INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS -
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Iran calls on UN to probe how Israel acquired nuclear weapons

Posted in the database on Monday, September 19th, 2005 @ 09:55:20 MST (669 views)
by Shlomo Shamir and Aluf Benn,    Haaretz  

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Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad addressing the UN assembly on Saturday

UNITED NATIONS - Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Saturday a UN committee should investigate how Israel acquired nuclear weapons.

In an unyielding speech to the General Assembly, Ahmadinejad said his country had the inalienable right to produce nuclear energy and accused the United States of violating a treaty banning the spread of atomic weapons.

Seeking to turn the tables of Western powers that suspect Tehran of developing nuclear weapons, Ahmadinejad offered to allow other countries and private companies to participate in his country's uranium enrichment program to prove that Tehran is not producing nuclear weapons.

Calling the charge that Iran is seeking to produce nuclear weapons "a pure propaganda ploy," Ahmadinejad said Iran has a right to a nuclear fuel program, but stressed that the country's "religious principles" prevent it from seeking atomic weapons.

The Iranian president also tried to focus international attention on Israel's nuclear activities.

He called for the establishment of a UN committee to formulate solutions for nuclear weapons disarmament and said the committee should "investigate how materials, technology and equipment related to atomic weapons made their way to the Zionist regime, in breach of the Treaty on the Non-proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT)."

Ahmadinejad told the UN that "the Islamic Republic of Iran is prepared to engage in a serious partnership with private and public sectors of other countries in the implementation of uranium enrichment program in Iran."

He said this was "as far as Iran would go" in its cooperation with foreign bodies. Ahmadinejad said his country would keep cooperating with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and maintain its negotiations with Britain, France and Germany.

He said the Iranian delegates to the negotiations have been instructed to obtain international guarantees from the Europeans that would ensure that Iran receive enriched uranium.

A senior diplomatic source in the Israeli delegation in New York said Ahmedenijad's speech was "Iran's way of getting an international stamp of approval for its uranium enrichment program, and an attempt to acquire assistance from foreign countries in solving the technical difficulties it has encountered."

"This attempt follows a breach on Iran's part of the Paris agreement to cease from activity related to uranium enrichment," the source added.

Sanctions 'remain on the agenda'

American and French foreign ministers reiterated their view that UN Security Council sanctions are still a feasible response to Iran's reluctance to permit international supervision on its nuclear program.

France's foreign minister said Saturday that referring Iran to the UN Security Council "remains on the agenda" following Ahmadinejad's speech.

Philippe Douste-Blazy told reporters he would consult with EU colleagues Germany and Britain but "what I heard today makes me predict that the option of (the International Atomic Energy Agency board of directors) reporting Iran to the Security Council remains on the agenda."

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice urged the United Nations on Saturday to be tough with Iran over its nuclear ambitions and said the Security Council must act when diplomacy was exhausted.

While asking the UN to be firm, Rice said there was still time for diplomacy and Tehran must resume nuclear talks that broke down last month with the Europeans.

"When diplomacy has been exhausted, the Security Council must become involved," Rice said.

The Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency is set to consider on Monday whether to refer Iran to the UN Security Council for possible sanctions, a move the United States has been pushing.

Iran will defend its rights

In an interview with CNN International, excerpts of which were aired before he was to address the United Nations General Assembly, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad insisted his country must retain the right to pursue nuclear fuel enrichment.

Iran "has the means to defend and obtain its rights" and charged that the United States had "bad intentions" toward his country, he said.

Asked whether Tehran might trigger a rise in world oil prices in retaliation if Western nations referred suspicions about Iran's nuclear program to the UN Security Council, he said: "Any intelligent, healthy smart human being should use every resource in order to maintain his or her freedom and independence."