Tehran (AFP) Nov 12, 2006
Iran vowed on Sunday it would deliver a "destructive" response to any Israeli military attack on its atomic sites and said it would continue trying to boost its capacity for sensitive nuclear work. Foreign ministry spokesman Mohammad Ali Hosseini said Iran was still seeking to install 3,000 centrifuges by March 2007 at an atomic plant to enrich uranium, a process the West fears could be diverted to make nuclear weapons.
His comments came after a top Israeli official refused to rule out a strike on the Islamic republic to halt the progress of its atomic programme, with the United Nations still unable to agree on sanctions against Tehran.
"Israel does not have the means and the capability to dare threaten Iran... if it commits such a stupidity the Islamic republic and its defenders will give a destructive response within a second," Hosseini said.
Israel -- widely considered to be the Middle East's sole nuclear power -- is within the range of Iran's ballistic missiles and sees Tehran as its chief enemy, after President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad called for the Jewish state to be "wiped off the map".
"I am not advocating an Israeli preemptive military action against Iran... I consider it a last resort. But even the last resort is sometimes the only resort," Israeli Deputy Defense Minister Ephraim Sneh said in comments published Friday.
Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert in an interview published Sunday branded Ahmadinejad a "dangerous man", saying "Iran must start to fear" and understand it will "pay dearly" if it does not compromise.
Despite the looming threat of sanctions, Hosseini indicated that Iran intended to press on apace with its nuclear drive.
"Iranian officials and experts are seeking" to install 3,000 centrifuges -- reaffirming a target which would allow Iran to enrich uranium on an industrial scale.
He added that the work would take place under the supervision of the UN's nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
Enriched uranium lies at the center of the dispute over Iran's nuclear program, as it can be used both to make nuclear fuel and the core of a nuclear bomb.
Tehran vehemently rejects US allegations that its nuclear program is aimed at making nuclear weapons, saying the drive is solely aimed at providing energy for civilians.
At present Iran has two cascades of 164 centrifuges on a research level enriching uranium to levels up to five percent -- rich enough for nuclear fuel but way off the 90 percent levels required for a nuclear bomb.
Major powers at the UN Security Council are mulling a resolution that would impose sanctions on Iran after it refused to suspend enrichment in return for an international offer of incentives.
The Security Council's five permanent members -- Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States -- plus Germany will resume talks Monday on how to censure a defiant Iran.
Iran's chief nuclear negotatior Ali Larijani, on his return from talks in Moscow, said adopting a resolution against Iran would show a change of direction and that world powers had no desire for negotiations with Iran.
"If the Westerners show another behavior regarding Iran's nuclear issue, it should be made clear who is renouncing on their commitments," the IRNA agency quoted him as saying.
"The passing of a resolution of the nature that is being discussed means a disruption of talks and it is the Westerners who have disrupted the talks. This means saying 'no' to the talks."
Ahmadinejad on Sunday called the United Nations Security Council "incompetent, and pressured by domineering powers".
"It is disgraceful that the UN Security Council, which must defend countries' rights and interests, threatens and makes a dossier against the states that are legally seeking nuclear fuel," he said on state television.
World powers will be discussing a European-proposed draft resolution mandating nuclear industry and ballistic missile-related sanctions against Iran.
But Russia and China, which have major energy and trade ties with Tehran, view the European draft as too tough and unlikely to bring about Iranian cooperation.
earlier related report
On the eve of his second visit to Washington since he took office in April, Olmert said Israel would be in favor of any compromise that would keep Iran from "crossing the technological threshhold" making them nuclear-weapons ready.
"But I don't believe that Iran will accept such compromise unless they have good reason to fear the consequences of not reaching a compromise.
"In other words, Iran must start to fear," he added.
Backed by the United States, Israel has said sanctions are necessary following Iran's persistent refusal to suspend uranium enrichment, a process which Israel, the United States and several European powers say hides a secret nuclear weapons programme -- despite Iran's insistence it is for peaceful purposes.
Israel -- widely considered the Middle East's sole, if undeclared, nuclear weapons power -- considers Iran its chief enemy, pointing to calls from Ahmadinejad for the Jewish state to be wiped off the map.
Olmert told Newsweek that US President George W. Bush, whom he will meet with at the White House on Monday, was well aware of what needed to be done to stop Iran.
"If there is one person I can trust, it's him," he said.
Asked if Israel would take military action to stop Iran from getting a nuclear weapon, Olmert said Israel "has many options," which he was not willing to discuss.
However, he added: "It is absolutely intolerable for Israel to accept the threat of a nuclear Iran."
Source: Agence France-Presse
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Iranian Foreign Minister Says Uranium Plan Still On Agenda For Moscow Meeting
Tehran (RIA Novosti) Nov 12, 2006
Iran's foreign minister said Saturday his visit to Moscow for talks on Tehran's nuclear program is still on the agenda. Manouchehr Mottaki's visit planned for Thursday was postponed to give way to the Islamic Republic's influential chief nuclear negotiator. Ali Larijani is currently in Moscow holding talks with Russia's leadership, while the countries involved in the long-running dispute aimed at dissuading Iran from enriching uranium are discussing sanctions against the defiant Islamic Republic.
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