Israel has renewed its criticism of Iran’s atomic agenda on Wednesday, accusing Tehran of working covertly on nuclear weapons while deceiving the international community by saying it does not want such arms.
An Israeli delegate to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said Iran had been working under a strategy he dubbed as “deception, defiance and concealment.”
Iran dismisses IAEA and international suspicions that it may have worked covertly on nuclear weapons and insists it has no interest in possessing such arms, saying its disputed uranium enrichment program is geared only toward generating nuclear fuel.
But critics note that it has blocked the restart of an IAEA probe into its alleged secret weapons work for nearly five years, as well as refused foreign offers of reactor fuel. It has instead expanded enrichment, and because the process can make both such fuel and the fissile material used to arm nuclear weapons, international concerns have grown about Tehran’s nuclear ambitions.
Accusing Iran of “proceeding in (an) accelerated path towards acquiring nuclear weapons capability,” Israeli envoy Ehoud Azoulay told the 35-nation IAEA board that the Islamic Republic was employing a strategy of “deception, defiance and concealment,” to gain time for developing such weapons.
In separate comments to The Associated Press he alluded to the military option, warning that “time is running out ... for a political solution.”
Israel is particularly critical, noting that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has called for the eradication of Israel. It and the United States have not ruled out military strikes against the Islamic Republic if diplomacy fails to curb a nuclear program they see as a cover for making weapons. While Wednesday’s comments from Israel were not new, they mirrored the high tensions that could result in such an attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities
Last month, six world powers − the United States, Britain, France, China, Russia and Germany − confronted Tehran over its intention to enrich uranium.
But Russia and China have both resisted Western sanctions imposed on Tehran over its nuclear program, with China one of the biggest buyers of Iranian oil.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, who is also visiting China, said Wednesday that further sanctions on Iran would be “counterproductive.”
Russia is preparing to host the latest round of talks between world powers and Iranian negotiators later this month in a bid to find a diplomatic solution to the standoff over Iran’s nuclear program.
Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao on Wednesday told the visiting Iranian president that Beijing opposes any Middle Eastern country seeking to acquire nuclear weapons, the official Xinhua news agency reported.
“China opposes any Middle East country’s push to acquire nuclear weapons and upholds that the Iranian nuclear issue should be addressed through diplomatic channels in an impartial way,” Wen told Iranian leader Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
He was speaking on the sidelines of the annual summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization regional grouping.