Israeli President Shimon Peres warned late Saturday an attack on Iran was “more and more likely,” days before the release of a a report by the U.N. nuclear watchdog on Iran’s nuclear program.
He told Israeli private television’s second channel: “The intelligence services of the different countries that are keeping an eye on Iran are worried and putting pressure on their leaders to warn that Iran is ready to obtain the nuclear weapon.”
“We must turn to these countries to ensure that they keep their commitments ... this must be done, and there is a long list of options,” Peres declared.
But according to the Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi, in comments published on Sunday, the IAEA’s crucial report on Iran’s nuclear program is being used as a possible trigger for war by Israel and is based on “counterfeit” claims.
“I believe that these documents lack authenticity. But if they insist, they should go ahead and publish. Better to face danger once than be always in danger,” several Iranian dailies quoted Salehi as saying.
His comments were made Saturday to media in Tehran during a visit by Burundian Foreign Minister Augustin Nsanze.
“We have said repeatedly that their documents are baseless. For example, one can counterfeit money, but it remains counterfeit. These documents are like that,” Salehi said.
He added: “Iran’s nuclear issue for the IAEA is not a technical or a legal issue but entirely a political one. If the IAEA dealt with it purely as a technical or legal issue, then it would say everything about the issue was transparent.”
The Associated Press reported on Saturday that the intelligence information collected by the IAEA suggests that Iran made computer models of a nuclear warhead and other previously undisclosed details on alleged secret work by Tehran on nuclear arms.
The IAEA’s diplomats said the new information will be made either on Tuesday or Wednesday and will focus on Iran’s alleged efforts to put the radioactive material in a warhead and to develop missiles to carry them to a target.
Other new confidential information the IAEA plans to share with its 35 board members will include satellite imagery of what the IAEA believes is a large steel container used for nuclear arms-related high explosives tests, the diplomats said Friday.
The agency has previously listed activities it says indicate possible secret nuclear weapons work by Iran.
Meanwhile, Israel on Thursday completed a major civil defense drill in the Tel Aviv region aimed at simulating a response to conventional and non-conventional missile attacks, the military said.
Israel, which bombed Iraq’s Osirak nuclear site in 1981, has also successfully tested what local media called a “ballistic missile,” which a defense ministry official described to AFP as a long-scheduled “test firing of the rocket-propulsion system.”
On Wednesday, the Haaretz newspaper reported that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak were seeking to win cabinet support for a strike on Iran, which Israel and the West suspect is looking to build an atomic bomb.
Haaretz said no decision had yet been taken on any military strike, and that a November 8 report from the IAEA would have a “decisive effect” on the decision-making process.
Previous IAEA assessments have centered on Iran’s efforts to produce fissile material − uranium and plutonium − that can be used for power generation and other peaceful uses, and also in a nuclear bomb.
Israeli experts have described the Iranian program as “alarming,” and Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman has said the report would prove “beyond doubt” its military aims. He hoped Iran would be targeted by a new series of international sanctions.
On Monday, Barak was forced to deny media reports that he and Netanyahu had already decided to launch an attack against Iran over the opposition of military and intelligence chiefs.
But he said “situations could arise in the Middle East under which Israel must defend its vital interests independently, without having to rely on other regional or other forces.”
Haaretz said a majority of the 15 members of Israel’s security cabinet were against an attack on Iran for the moment. Only that body can take such a monumental decision.
Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi said Thursday that Iran was “prepared for the worst,” warning the United States against heading for confrontation with Tehran.
France against attack
Military attacks on Iran’s nuclear program could create a “totally destabilizing” situation in the region, French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe said on Sunday, saying France would instead harden sanctions.
“We can still strengthen them (sanctions) to put pressure on Iran and we are going to continue along this path because a military intervention could create a totally destabilizing situation in the region,” Juppe told Europe 1 radio.
“We must do everything to avoid the irreparable,” he said.
Last week, President Nicolas Sarkozy criticized what he called Iran’s “obsession” to develop nuclear weapons and said France would not stand idly by if Israel were threatened.
Western powers suspect Tehran of trying to develop nuclear weapons and have imposed sanctions in an attempt to curb its program. Iran denies seeking nuclear weapons and says its atom program is for power generation.