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Israel calls on world to oppose Iranian 'threat'

AFP | August 28 2006

Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni on Monday urged the international community to stop the "threat" posed by Iran, which she accused of trying to "buy time" to build a nuclear weapon.

"The world must understand that it must act so that uranium enrichment is stopped in Iran. This is crucial for world peace," she said after talks in Berlin with her German counterpart Frank-Walter Steinmeier.

"The international community cannot accept the threat" posed by Iran's response to an international incentives package to stop sensitive nuclear work, she added, calling it an attempt to buy time until Tehran can develop a nuclear arsenal.

Israel is widely believed to be the only country in the Middle East to have nuclear weapons, with at least 200 warheads, although it has never confirmed or denied it holds such an arsenal.

Livni, who is also to meet Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin, will fly to Copenhagen Tuesday for talks with Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen and Foreign Minister Per Stig Moeller.

Israel said Saturday it was not convinced by assurances from Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad that Tehran's nuclear programme was no threat to the Jewish state.

"Israel is not fooled by such declarations, the sole aim of which are to avoid sanctions being imposed on Iran" by the UN Security Council, government spokesman Avi Pazner told AFP.

Ahmadinejad "has often stated his true intentions concerning Israel", he said, a reference to repeated calls by the Iranian president for the country's destruction.

The Iranian president said Saturday that Tehran is "no threat to any nation, even the Zionist regime", speaking in Khondab, in central Iran, after opening a heavy water production plant just five days before a UN deadline to suspend sensitive nuclear fuel cycle work.

The plant at Arak will supply heavy water to be used as cooling fluid for a 40 MW research reactor due for completion by 2009.

The International Atomic Energy Agency has voiced concern over the risk of diversion of nuclear materials, as the research reactor could produce 8-10 kilograms (about 20 pounds) of plutonium a year -- enough to make at least two nuclear bombs.

Iran is under pressure from the international community to suspend its program of uranium enrichment, and the UN Security Council has given Tehran until August 31 to comply or face the threat of sanctions.

Western countries, led by the United States, believe Iran wants to build nuclear weapons, but the Islamic republic insists it only wants to develop civilian nuclear power and has the right to master the required technology.

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