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US Would Hit Iran Says Israel As Ahmadinejad Says Iran Will Resist To End

US President George W. Bush and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Photo courtesy of AFP.
by Staff Writers
Jerusalem (AFP) Nov 15, 2006
US President George W. Bush will not hesitate to use force against Iran to halt its nuclear program if other options fail, Israel's outgoing US ambassador Danny Ayalon said in an interview Wednesday. "US President George W. Bush will not hesitate to use force against Iran in order to halt its nuclear program," Ayalon told the Maariv daily.

"I have been priviledged to know him well, he will not hesitate to go all the way if there is no choice," said Ayalon, due to return to the Jewish state next week after serving as ambassador in Washington for more than four years.

Israel, widely considered the Middle East's sole if undeclared nuclear power, views Iran as its arch-foe, pointing to repeated calls by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to wipe the Jewish state off the map.

The international community has been wrangling for months with the Islamic republic over its nuclear program, which Tehran insists is for civilian purposes and the West fears is a cover to develop atomic weapons.

In the interview, Ayalon said he thought Bush would first try to use diplomacy in trying to halt Tehran's atomic energy program.

"First the president will try to exhaust the diplomatic process," he said. "I estimate that there is a 50 percent chance that the diplomatic effort will succeed. If not, he will advance another step and consider imposing isolation and a blockade on Iran, like the US imposed on Cuba in the past.

"If this too does not succeed, he will not hesitate to employ force," he said. "If sanctions succeed, all the better. Otherwise, he will act by all means possible, including military action."

Ayalon said that a US military operation against Tehran would differ substantially from its invasion of Iraq in 2003.

"That is not the model. This is more (a case of) employing air power combined with limited ground forces.

"Anyone who is familiar with President Bush knows that he is very determined. he is convinced of the moral supremacy of democracies over dictatorships.

"Even when he was at a low, he was not alarmed and continued to stick to his path. He also told me personally, in one of these difficult moments, that if you continue and persevere in your path, the people will ultimately follow you."

earlier related report
Iran to 'resist to end' on nuclear: Ahmadinejad
Tehran (AFP) Nov 15 - President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad vowed Wednesday that Iran would "resist to the end" on its nuclear programme, after sparking fresh Western concern by revealing plans to massively ramp up sensitive atomic work. "The Iranian people will resist to the end to defend their nuclear right," Ahmadinejad told thousands of supporters in a speech in Sanandaj, the capital of Iran's Kurdestan province, broadcast live on state television.

"Thanks to God, time is on Iran's side and with every passing day they (the great powers) are having to take a step backwards and recognise Iran's right while the Iranian people take a step forward to the summit of technology."

Ahmadinejad on Tuesday said Iran was ultimately aiming to install 60,000 centrifuges to enrich uranium to make nuclear fuel on an industrial scale, which the United States said would be enough to make a nuclear weapon.

Iran insists its nuclear programme is peaceful and that it has every right to the full nuclear fuel cycle, rejecting US accusations that its civilian energy drive masks a programme to make a nuclear bomb.

US State Department spokesman Sean McCormack described Ahmadinejad's remarks -- made at a news conference Tuesday -- as a "cold jolt" adding that "what that leads to is an Iranian nuclear weapon".

The installation of 60,000 centrifuges would take several years but would enable the Islamic republic to enrich uranium on an industrial scale to make its own nuclear fuel.

Iran had previously said it is looking to install 3,000 centrifuges by March 2007. It currently has two cascades of 164 centrifuges apiece at its Natanz plant to enrich uranium on a research scale.

The United States is leading a drive to impose UN sanctions against Iran over its failure to suspend uranium enrichment, but has hit stalemate amid opposition from China and Russia to a European-proposed draft resolution.

Uranium enrichment can be used both to produce nuclear fuel and make the warhead of an atomic bomb. Iran can currently enrich uranium to levels of 5 percent, enough for fuel, but a bomb requires levels of some 90 percent.

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert of Israel, Iran's arch-enemy, said in Los Angeles the world had "reached the pivotal moment of truth" on Iran's nuclear programme and warned "we cannot afford to wait".

The latest report by the UN nuclear watchdog obtained by AFP in Vienna on Tuesday mentioned the presence of traces of plutonium, a possible weapons material, at an Iranian waste storage site.

The body said it was now examining Iran's response to the findings.

However Ali Asghar Soltanieh, Iran's representative to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), played down the report, which he said contained nothing new.

"The report proves that the case will go on normally at the IAEA and this document shows that there is no justification for Security Council intervention or interference from any other organisation," he told state radio.

The report also urged full Iranian cooperation with the IAEA as "a prerequisite for the agency to be able to confirm the peaceful nature of Iran's nuclear programme".

The Kurdestan speech by Ahmadinejad, who ditched his trademark beige jacket for a traditional Kurdish coat for the occasion, was his first in his latest regional tour aimed at bringing the government's message to the people.

He also issued a warning to the Democrats, the political rivals of US President George W. Bush who seized control of Congress in elections earlier this month, to force a drastic change in US policy on the Middle East.

"The (current) failure is that of American policy, a policy of aggression, intervention and the utilisation of force. I tell those who recently came to power that if you do the same, the same destiny awaits you."

In a message to Bush and his allies, Ahmadinejad added: "I tell those who are still partially in power to use the time you have left to serve the American people. What are you doing in Afghanistan, Iraq and in the region?

"Renounce this behaviour as otherwise the destiny of all oppressors in the world awaits you too."

earlier related report
Iran says IAEA report shows nuclear programme peaceful
Tehran (AFP) Nov 15 - Iran said Wednesday the latest UN watchdog report into its nuclear activities confirmed the peaceful nature of the programme, playing down the reported finding of plutonium, a possible weapons material.

"The report proves the Iranian nuclear activities are peaceful and there is no deviation seen towards military ends," Ali Asghar Soltanieh, Iran's representative to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), told state radio.

Soltanieh dismissed the reported presence of traces of plutonium as "nothing new and not a special issue".

The IAEA report said the agency is investigating traces of plutonium, a possible weapons material, found in containers at a waste storage site at Karaj in Iran. It said it was now examining Iran's response.

Accusing foreign media of carrying misleading reports, Soltanieh added: "The report simply mentions that Iran has provided explanations about previously reported traces of plutonium."

Meanwhile Iran's Atomic Energy Organization said: "The source of this contamination is the old fuel (used by) Tehran's research reactor, which has been under IAEA supervision since it started operating", the official IRNA news agency reported.

The reactor was built before the 1979 Islamic revolution.

"The report proves that the case will go on normally at the IAEA and this document shows that there is no justification for Security Council intervention or interference from any other organisation," Soltanieh said.

A senior UN official told reporters, however, that the Iranian response had come too late to be analyzed before an IAEA meeting next week in Vienna that will review the Iranian nuclear programme.

The report also said full Iranian cooperation with IAEA's work "is a prerequisite for the agency to be able to confirm the peaceful nature of Iran's nuclear programme".

Iran insists its nuclear programme is peaceful, rejecting US accusations that its civilian energy drive masks a programme to make a nuclear bomb.

Source: Agence France-Presse

Related Links
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China Urges Japan To Be 'Responsible' On Nuclear Arms
Beijing (AFP) Nov 15, 2006
China on Wednesday urged Japan to adopt a "responsible attitude" towards safeguarding regional peace after its neighbour said it should be allowed to possess nuclear arms for self-defense. "We hope the Japanese side will stick to its 'three non-nuclear principles' and adopt a responsible attitude in safeguarding regional peace and stability," official media quoted the foreign ministry as saying.







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