Israel is not indifferent to “direct and blunt” Iranian threats to its existence
and is “competent to deter its enemies and to defend itself,” Shaul Chorev, head
of the Israeli Atomic Energy Commission, said Wednesday.
comments came at the annual meeting of the 155-nation International Atomic
Energy Agency in Vienna, where he said that Iran’s sizable enrichment of uranium
and construction of a heavy water research reactor for the military production
of plutonium, as well as its design and testing of components of nuclear weapons
and its activities to integrate a payload onto the Shahab 3 missile, left no
doubt as to the goal of Tehran’s efforts.
“Iran’s nuclear activities are
conducted in violation of all relevant UN Security Council and IAEA Board of
Governors resolutions, and are carried out with impunity, as measures of the
international community have no effect on Iran’s nuclear program,” he
Chorev added that Iranian fingerprints were all over Syria, where
“the Syrian regime fights for its survival at a cost of tens of thousands of
lives of innocent Syrian civilians.”
He also argued against Arab calls
for a nuclear-free Middle East, saying the region had long been characterized by
the pursuit of weapons of mass destruction by despotic regimes in violation of
every legally binding international commitment and obligation.
concept of a region free of WMD that has never been put to test even in the most
peaceful regions of the world is certainly much less applicable to the current
volatile and hostile Middle East region,” he said. “Any attempt to reach this
goal requires a significant transformation of regional trends and the creation
of some elementary pre-conditions.”
Chorev listed three preconditions:
First, that such a process be launched only when peaceful relations exist for a
reasonable period of time; second, that the call for this zone come from within
the region; and third, that it not be imposed from the
Obviously, he said, these conditions do not presently
He alluded to charges leveled against Israel earlier this month by
Jordan’s King Abdullah II to the effect that it was blocking Jordanian efforts
to build a nuclear reactor for peaceful purposes.
“With regards to
Jordan’s civilian nuclear program I wish to emphasize that Israel supports the
use of nuclear power by its neighbors, to meet their energy and water needs,”
Chorev said. “Israel believes in the peaceful uses of nuclear energy in the
Middle East, as long as states fully honor their international nonproliferation
Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, meanwhile
said in a speech quoted by the AFP news agency from his official website that
his country does not “accept the demands of any superpower.”
AFP, Khamenei gave the speech to an audience of military personnel Tuesday in
the northern part of the country.
Iran, he said, “makes its decisions
solely based on the interests of its people and the country, even if all of the
world’s powers get angry at its decisions.” Khamenei added that Western media
were playing up the degree to which sanctions were impacting on Iran, and urged
his listeners not to pay any attention to their reports.
“Drawing a black
and dark picture of the country’s situation is the known method of Western and
Zionist media aimed at halting the Iranian nation’s path,” he said.
One Israeli official responded by saying that
the “unfortunate reality” is that despite the sanctions and strong talk from
Israel and the international community, the Iranians have not been convinced
that “if they continue they will face an unacceptable price.”
related development, Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator, Saeed Jalili, said on
Wednesday that he and European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton had
agreed to defer further nuclear talks until she consulted the six world powers
she represents next week.
Jalili said his talks with Ashton late Tuesday
night in Istanbul had been constructive.
“We evaluated the common points
and what we could do for further cooperation and future meetings,” he told a
Jalili added that they had agreed to renew contact after
Ashton meets the members of the P5+1 next week in New York.
which is negotiating with Iran, is made up of the US, Russia, China, France,
Germany and Britain. Three rounds of P5+1 talks with Iran since April have made
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Reuters contributed to this report