Netanyahu at cabinet meeting 311.jpg.
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
Iran’s nuclear program is a danger to world peace, said Prime Minister Binyamin
Netanyahu Sunday as he urged the international community to band together to
“The international community must stop Iran’s race to arm itself
with nuclear weapons – a race that endangers the peace of the entire world,”
Netanyahu said at the start of the weekly cabinet meeting. In remarks to cabinet
ministers, the prime minister said Tehran is closer to getting an atomic bomb
than was originally thought.
“Only things that could be proven were
written [in the UN report], but in reality there are many other things that we
see,” Netanyahu said, according to an official in the Prime Minister’s
The prime minister was briefed by Israel’s Atomic Energy Director
Dr. Shaul Horev and Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman on a report on Iran’s
nuclear program published last week by the International Atomic Energy
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“This is a comprehensive document that strengthens the claims by
leading countries in the world and Israel that Iran is systematically developing
nuclear weapons,” Netanyahu said. “Any responsible government in the world needs
to draw the obvious conclusions from the IAEA report.”
program will feature high on Defense Minister Ehud Barak’s agenda in talks he
will hold later this week with Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and
Defense Minister Peter MacKay during a trip to Ontario.
Barak will leave
for Ontario on Tuesday and will hold talks with senior Canadian
He will also attend an annual gathering of NATO defense
ministers in Canada and will then travel to New York for talks with United
Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.
Barak plans to urge his
international counterparts to impose tougher sanctions on Iran in an effort to
prevent Tehran from developing a nuclear weapon.
During a visit to
Afghanistan over the weekend, MacKay told the Globe and Mail that he plans to
ask Barak for clarifications about possible Israeli plans to attack
“I think Ehud Barak... will be able to give us an insight into the
thinking of the Israeli government about how they are going to respond to
renewed suggestions and evidence that Iran is still aggressively pursuing
nuclear capability,” the Canadian defense minister was quoted as
Israel’s emissaries around the globe have also been instructed to
talk with their counterparts about increased sanctions.
But at present, a
united international front on Iran seems unlikely given that Russia and China
have objected to stiffer sanctions from the United Nations Security
Still, US President Barack Obama lobbied both countries over the
weekend during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum that met in
“We discussed Iran and reaffirmed our intention to work to
shape a common response so that we can move Iran to follow its international
obligations when its comes to its nuclear program,” Obama said after he met with
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev.
He also spoke about Iranian sanctions
with Chinese President Hu Jintao.
Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar
Salehi on Sunday seemingly rejected the possibility of a diplomatic solution to
ease tensions over the country’s controversial nuclear program, accusing the
West of using the nuclear issue as “a pretext” to weaken Iran.
there is no purpose in making additional concessions,” Salehi said in an
interview with the German weekly Der Spiegel.
Salehi rejected the report
released by the International Atomic Energy Agency last week, which said that
evidence suggests Iran is working toward a nuclear weapon. The Iranian foreign
minister accused the UN nuclear watchdog, and its head Yukiya Amano, of giving
up “objectivity,” and bowing to pressure from “certain countries.”
will call him and the atomic energy authority to account for these conclusions,”
he told Der Spiegel.
On Friday, the UN nuclear watchdog showed letters
and satellite images as part of evidence pointing to military dimensions to
Iran’s atomic activities, diplomats said, but Tehran’s envoy dismissed it as
“lousy” intelligence work.
Herman Nackaerts, head of nuclear inspections
worldwide at the IAEA, made an hour-long technical presentation of the agency’s
latest report on Iran’s nuclear program at a closed-door meeting for member
Ali Asghar Soltanieh, Iran’s ambassador to the IAEA, said there
were no nuclear-related activities at Parchin.
“There is no proof that
Iranian activities are towards military purposes,” he told reporters after the
“We do have conventional activities [at Parchin] and this has
nothing to do with nuclear.”
Saying the report had damaged the UN
agency’s credibility, Soltanieh added in English: “This kind of lousy job of
intelligence created problems for all member states.”Reuters contributed
to this report.
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