(photo credit: AP)
Iran demanded Tuesday that the UN Security Council condemn what it said was Israel's clandestine development and possession of nuclear weapons and "compel" Israel to abandon its nuclear arms and place all its nuclear facilities under UN inspection.
If Israel refused to comply, Iran said, the council must take "resolute action" under Chapter 7 of the UN Charter, which authorizes a range of measures from diplomatic and economic sanctions to military action.
Iran's UN Ambassador Javad Zarif said in identical letters to the council and the secretary-general that the council's actions would show whether it was acting under the UN Charter or as "a tool" for a few permanent members who have encouraged Israel "to persist in its lawless behavior with impunity."
The reference appeared to be aimed at the United States, Israel's closest ally, which would almost certainly veto any council resolution on Israel's nuclear program.
Zarif said Israel was the only obstacle to establishing a nuclear weapons-free zone in the Middle East.
"Peace and stability cannot be achieved in the Middle East while the massive Israeli nuclear arsenal continues to threaten the region and beyond," he said.
Zarif said Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's recent comments in a German television interview constituted not only a public admission of the country's nuclear weapons but a public boast of how dangerous they were.
Israel has a long-standing policy of nuclear ambiguity, refusing to confirm or deny whether it has nuclear weapons. But in the German TV interview broadcast on December 12, Olmert appeared to include Israel in a list of countries that possess nuclear weapons.
Israel's UN Mission had no immediate comment on Zarif's letters.
"Nuclear weapons in the hands of a regime with an unparalleled record of non-compliance with Security Council resolutions and a long and dark catalogue of crimes and atrocities such as occupation, aggression, militarism, state-terrorism, and crimes against humanity, poses a uniquely grave threat to regional as well as international peace and security," Zarif claimed.
He called on the council to fulfill its responsibility under the UN Charter "to address such a clear and serious threat to international peace and security."
"The council should ... condemn the Israeli regime's clandestine development and possession of nuclear weapons, compel it to abandon nuclear weapons, (and) urge it to accede" to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, Zarif said.
It should also demand that all of Israel's nuclear facilities be subject to inspection by the International Atomic Energy Agency and be placed under the body's safeguards program.
"Should the Israeli regime fail to do so, the council must take resolute action under Chapter 7 of the Charter to ensure compliance," he said.