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. Israel, Iran clash over their nuclear programs
Israel and Iran clashed at the UN General Assembly here Tuesday, accusing each other of threatening Middle East and world peace with their respective nuclear programs.

Israeli Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom took the floor to denounce what he called the "evil regime" in Tehran and urged the UN nuclear watchdog agency and the Security Council to stop it from acquiring nuclear weapons.

As Shalom spoke, the International Atomic Energy Agency's (IAEA) board of governors met in Vienna to discuss a draft resolution by Britain, France and Germany urging that Iran be reported to the Security Council for breaching international atomic safeguards.

"I call on them to stop this evil regime (Tehran) from acquiring nuclear weapons," Shalom told assembly members, referring to the IAEA governors. "The security and stability of the entire globe is at stake."

"This is why it is essential and urgent that the Security Council take action," he added. "The international community must rally as one and use all the means at its disposal to stop Iran, before it goes nuclear."

Calling Iran's nuclear ambitions the "central threat" to global security, the Israeli foreign minister said: "We must not allow the fate of mankind to rest in the hands of the tyrants in Tehran."

Hours later, Iranian delegate Ahmad Sadeghi was allowed to respond to the charges and slammed what he called "unsubstantiated allegations" against his country "from a representative of the Israeli regime."

He told the General Assembly that it was not surprising that Israel "would make such baseless and fabricated propaganda to remedy for its illegitimacy."

The delegate accused Israel of using its nuclear arsenal to threaten "peace and security in the volatile region of the Middle East for years."

Israel is believed to be the only nuclear power in the Middle East. Although it has never admitted to having nuclear weapons, it is thought to possess an arsenal of about 200 warheads.

"This (Israeli) regime should face a united front and must be kept under continuing pressure to relinquish its nuclear program and place all its nuclear facilities under international monitoring," the Iranian delegate said.

"I just want to express our appreciation for a lecture on human rights, on world terror and on nuclear proliferation from one of the world's greatest experts in that field," Israeli UN ambassador Dan Gillerman retorted.

Sunday, Shalom said proposals unveiled by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad before the General Assembly to allay Western concern over its nuclear intentions were an attempt to buy time to advance its nuclear program.

Ahmadinejad on Saturday outlined four proposals, including an offer to "engage in serious partnership with private and public sectors of other countries in the implementation of the uranium-enrichment program in Iran."

But Shalom said Iran was trying to water down opposition from foreign governments by "flashing contracts for private and public companies."

Following the downfall of Saddam Hussein's regime in Iraq in 2003, Israel has come to view Iran as its number-one enemy.

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