Israeli defense chief tells French parliament Iran at point of nuclear no-return
PARIS (AFP) Jan 28, 2005
Israeli Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz has told French lawmakers that Iran is at "the point of no-return" on building nuclear weapons, according to a transcript of his remarks to the National Assembly made public Friday.
Mofaz, who warned openly in London this week that Iran would not be permitted to build a nuclear bomb, has in the past said that Israel has operational plans in place for a strike against Iranian targets.
Mofaz told the French National Assembly's defense commission that "he ardently hoped that a recourse to military action would not be necessary" in Iran, according the transcript of the Tuesday meeting.
But he said that to avoid this, there would have to be careful inspections aimed at removing any ambiguity about the existence of a military nuclear project.
Even if Iran recognized Israel's existence, Mofaz said "the possession of a nuclear weapon by an extremist regime is not acceptable."
"The danger is great," he said. "The possession of non-conventional weapons could allow Iran to carry out terrorist actions with complete impunity and destabilize the free world."
Iran's Revolutionary Guards warned earlier this week that any attack against the country would be met with an "astonishing" retaliation.
The Islamic republic also responded to the Israeli allegations that it was close to developing a nuclear weapon, saying the latest accusations were designed to shift attention away from Israel's own weapons and its "terror" against Palestinians.
While Iran insists its nuclear activities are strictly peaceful, Britain, France and Germany have been engaged in diplomatic efforts to secure long-term guarantees that the Tehran regime will not seek the bomb.
Mofaz, an outspoken and hawkish former army chief-of-staff who was responsible for adopting increasingly tough measures against the Palestinian intifada, told the defense commission that controls on Iranian nuclear activities by the International Atomic Energy Agency were "largely insufficient."
Mofaz accused Iran of doing "nothing but play for time" in order to build up its production of enriched uranium.
He said the United States and the European Union should take the matter to the United Nations Security Council "so that a a more substantial control can be put in place and sanctions are considered."
Mofaz said Washington, as the world's super-power, needed to put pressure on Europe in a joint attempt "to stop and not merely retard the Iranian program."
On Monday, President George W. Bush said he could not rule out using force if Iran failed to rein in its nuclear plans. Vice President Dick Cheney also warned that Israel might launch a pre-emptive strike on its own to shut down Iran's nuclear program.All rights reserved. © 2005 Agence France-Presse. Sections of the information displayed on this page (dispatches, photographs, logos) are protected by intellectual property rights owned by Agence France-Presse. As a consequence, you may not copy, reproduce, modify, transmit, publish, display or in any way commercially exploit any of the content of this section without the prior written consent of Agence France-Presse.