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. International community must mobilise against Iran nuclear threat: Peres
JERUSALEM (AFP) Jan 24, 2005
Israeli Deputy Prime Minister Shimon Peres called Monday for an international mobilisation against Iran's nuclear ambitions which he said threatened the stability of the whole Middle East.

"The world must mobilise against the Iranian nuclear option," Peres said in an interview with army radio.

"Iran has become the focal point of all the dangers of the Middle East... This problem should be of concern to the whole world and not just Israel."

His comments were echoed by Meir Dagan, head of Israeli spy agency Mossad, who told the parliamentary foreign affairs and defence committee that Iran's nuclear ambitions were close to "the point of no return".

Iran, he said, was nearly able to manufacture enriched uranium without any external help, Israel's army radio quoted him as telling the committee.

"From there, the route to building a bomb is a short one, and so it is up to the international community to increase its efforts in order to prevent the arming of Tehran," Dagan said.

Last Monday, US President George W. Bush said he could not rule out using force if Tehran failed to rein in its nuclear plans, which he said was a cover for the production of a nuclear bomb.

Putting Iran "right at the top of the list" of global trouble spots, US Vice President Dick Cheney has warned that Israel might launch its own pre-emptive strike to shut down Iran's nuclear programme.

Since the downfall of the Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein, Israel has come to regard the Islamic Republic as its number one enemy.

While Iran insists its nuclear activities are strictly peaceful, Britain, France and Germany are engaged in diplomatic efforts to secure long-term guarantees that the clerical regime will not seek the bomb.

Iran has agreed to suspend its work on the sensitive nuclear fuel cycle -- a process that can be geared to both civil and military purposes -- for the duration of the talks with the European Union.

The United States has so far refused to join the EU effort, having had no diplomatic ties with Iran since shortly after the 1979 Islamic revolution, and US officials are sceptical of the European Union's chances of success.

Israel itself has never publicly acknowledged that it maintains a nuclear arsenal but foreign experts say it has used a reactor at Dimona in the southern Negev desert to produce between 100 and 200 nuclear warheads.

Peres was the founder of Israel's nuclear programme.

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