Israel urges Europe to take hard stand against Iran's nuclear programme
VIENNA (AFP) Nov 19, 2003
Israel urged leading European members of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) on Wednesday to take a tougher stand against Iran's uranium enrichment programme.

Speaking on the eve of a crucial meeting at the agency's Vienna headquarters, Israeli Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom said "a robust European stand is needed" because "Iran has violated its commitments" under IAEA rules.

Britain, France and Germany are expected to resist a call from the United States at an IAEA board meeting scheduled Thursday to cite Iran for non-compliance with the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

A ruling of non-compliance would bring the issue before the United Nations Security Council, which could then possibly impose sanctions on Iran.

"I believe it should be moved to the Security Council," Shalom told reporters after meeting his Austrian counterpart, Benita Ferrero-Waldner, here Wednesday.

The Israeli official said a report last week by IAEA director general Mohamed ElBaradei proved that Iran had violated its commitments.

ElBaradei said, however, that there was so far no evidence Iran was trying to make the bomb, a conclusion Washington dismissed as "simply too impossible to believe."

Shalom described Iran's nuclear programme as a threat to Israel and to world peace, but when asked whether his country was willing to take military action against Iran, he replied: "We would like to do it in a peaceful way."

On October 7, 1981, Israeli warplanes destroyed a nuclear reactor near Baghdad, after Israel accused Iraq of preparing to develop atomic weapons.

Israel is one of four countries that have not signed the 1970 Non-Proliferation Treaty. The others are India and Pakistan, which have both tested atomic weapons, and Cuba.