Friday, September 24, 2004

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Top News Article | "Pressed Over Nuclear Arms, Iran Slams US, Israel

By Irwin Arieff
UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - Iran, under fire on suspicion of secretly seeking nuclear arms, accused the United States on Friday of "lawless militarism" in Iraq and called Israel the biggest threat to peace in the Middle East.

"The attack against Iraq was illegal," Iranian Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi told the U.N. General Assembly, thanking U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan for publicly stating the same in a television interview last week.

The invasion was an example of "increasing lawless militarism," involving "the use of brute and unsanctioned military force to achieve some political goals, albeit desirable goals," said Kharrazi, explaining that his country, which fought an eight-year war with its neighbor, had "benefited greatly by the removal of Saddam Hussein."

Kharrazi said Israel, which is widely believed to have nuclear weapons but declines to acknowledge them, had systematically thwarted U.N. efforts to make the Middle East a nuclear-free zone.

"All countries of the region and beyond are unanimous in considering the Israeli arsenal, including its weapons of mass destruction, combined with its policy and record of aggression and state terrorism, as the single greatest threat to regional and global peace and security," he said.

"Israeli cannot hide these facts behind smoke screens. It is time for the international community to show its resolve to maintain the credibility of multilateral disarmament instruments by taking action to compel Israel to comply," he said.

The United States accuses Iran of using a domestic nuclear energy program as a cover for developing nuclear arms and wants the Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency to send the matter to the U.N. Security Council for possible sanctions.

Britain, France and Germany are pressing Tehran to renounce any weapons-related activities in return for cooperation on peaceful nuclear energy and closer economic ties.

But Iran instead said this week it had begun processing raw uranium for enrichment, a preliminary step to making a bomb.

Washington also accuses Iran of fueling attacks on U.S. targets in Iraq and backing anti-Israeli Hizbollah guerrillas in southern Lebanon.

But Kharrazi sought to turn the tables on his critics, calling his country "a victim of terrorism" and urging a more collective global fight against the scourge.

"No state can even come close to doing it alone," he said."


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