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Israel Watching Middle East Nuclear Developments

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. Photo courtesy of AFP.
by Staff Writers
Vienna (AFP) Sep 20, 2006
Israel is watching with concern nuclear developments in the Middle East, a senior Israeli official said Wednesday, in a clear reference to Iran. Israel views "with special concern the alarming nuclear and missile proliferation developments in and around the Middle East," Gideon Frank, head of Israel's atomic energy commission, told a meeting in Vienna of the UN watchdog International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

"Naturally we cannot and will not remain indifferent to such developments, but we still pin our hopes on the international community to address them," Frank said.

On Tuesday Israel voiced concern about a French concession towards Iran's nuclear activities and again urged the international community to impose immediate sanctions against the Jewish state's arch-enemy.

"Immediate sanctions must be imposed on Iran and should have been a long time ago because time is not just working against us, but against the entire international community," Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni told public radio from New York.

Iran's top nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani is set to hold a new round of talks in Europe next week with EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana, Larijani's office said Wednesday in Tehran.

Referring in part to recent IAEA reports that have cited Iran for failing to suspend uranium enrichment, Frank said here: "These ominous developments, were they allowed to grow further, would gravely undermine regional and eventually global stability and pose an existential challenge to Israel."

Israel is believed to be the only country in the Middle East to have a nuclear arsenal, estimated at some 200 nuclear warheads, although the Jewish state has never confirmed or denied it holds such weapons.

Washington -- which leads Western concerns that Iran is secretly trying to develop nuclear weapons -- on Tuesday formally endorsed a new round of negotiations between Larijani and Solana to try to resolve the long-running standoff with Iran.

The United States had previously been pushing for sanctions after Iran failed to meet a UN Security Council resolution calling for Tehran to halt uranium enrichment by August 31.

The 140 nations of the Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency are holding a week-long meeting here, which includes a three-day seminar on finding a way for nations to get nuclear reactor fuel, but not to acquire the technology to make atom bombs.

Source: Agence France-Presse

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Major Powers Give Iran Until Early October To Accept Nuclear Deal
United Nations (AFP) Sep 20, 2006
The major powers have given Iran a new deadline of early October to suspend uranium enrichment and begin negotiations on a package of rewards for stepping back from a nuclear showdown, a senior European diplomat said Wednesday.

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