Ban to Peres: Iran must prove nuke program peaceful

In Jerusalem, UN secretary-general says he worries about possible military aspects of Tehran's atomic program; president decries weapons from Iran making their way into Gaza.

February 1, 2012 12:19
2 minute read.
UN Chief Ban Ki-moon and President Shimon Peres.

UN Ban ki-moon and Shimon Peres 390 . (photo credit: Mark Neyman / GPO)


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UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told President Shimon Peres Wednesday he was worried about the possible military aspects of Iran's nuclear program, laid out in a recent IAEA report, and called on Iran to prove that the program is peaceful.

"I have been urging the Iranian authorities to prove that their nuclear program is genuinely for peaceful purposes. I think they have not yet convinced the international community," he said.

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“These issues can be resolved in a peaceful way through dialogue. There is no alternative to a peaceful resolution,” he continued.

The UN nuclear watchdog said on Wednesday it had completed "good" talks in Iran about suspicions Tehran was seeking atomic weapons but "there is still a lot of work to be done and so we have planned another trip in the very near future."

Peres told Ban that the problem with Iran extends beyond its nuclear program, noting that weapons from the Islamic Republic were making their way into Gaza.

Addressing the stalled low-level peace negotiations, Peres said, "The peace negotiations are encountering natural differences. It is not the end of it. It may take time."

On the day before arriving in Israel from Jordan, Ban called on Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to give the Palestinians some “goodwill gestures” so the low-level talks that began in Amman last month will continue.

“Of course, it will also be required that the Palestinian Authorities come to [the] dialogue table,” he said Tuesday after meeting in Amman with Jordan’s King Abdullah II and Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh.

In Jerusalem, Ban also commented on the discussion underway at the Security Council over continued violence in Syria, Ban said the world cannot stand idly by while innocent people are killed daily.

The meeting between Ban and Peres comes as part of a regional visit by the UN chief, who is scheduled to meet with Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman and Netanyahu. He will go to Ramallah in the afternoon for high-level meetings.

Ban is expected to view UN projects there but not to meet with any Hamas officials.

On Thursday, after visiting Gaza, Ban will visit the Sapir Academic College near Sderot, which has been the target of numerous Kassam rockets from Gaza. He will then hold meetings with Defense Minister Ehud Barak and opposition leader Tzipi Livni, and deliver the keynote address at the 12th annual Herzliya Conference.

Herb Keinon, Yaakov Katz and Reuters contributed to this report.

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