Iran threatens counter-strike
Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman says recent Israeli statements on Iran's nuclear project show Israeli government is frustrated from failure to bring international community to pressure Iran: 'Zionist authorities are well aware that if they make a foolish mistake against Iran, Iran's harsh response will be destructive and determined'
He claimed that a "serious crisis" within the "Zionist authorities" was the main factor behind what he described as Israeli threats. His comments were reported by the Islamic Republic News Agency.
"The Zionist authorities are well aware that if they make a foolish mistake against Iran, Iran's harsh response will be destructive and determined," said the spokesman. "Their approach comes from their anger over the fact that they can't realize their plans," he added.
Earlier, Benjamin Netanyahu told the Voice of Israel national radio network that "Israel must take every necessary step to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons. Iran must be prevented from developing this threat to the State of Israel. If, by the elections, the current government works to achieve this, I will give it my full support – and if it does not, I intend on establishing the next government, and then we'll act."
Meretz-Yahad faction head Yossi Beilin said that narrow considerations based on elections will drag Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Netanyahu to harsh comments that will be perceived as support for military action against Iran. Beilin said Israel must work for diplomatic activity to be led by the United States without endangering Israel in a confrontation with Iran with potentially disastrous consequences.
Also on Sunday the head of Tehran's National Security and Foreign Policy Commission Alaeddin Boroujerdi was quoted saying by Tehran's official news agency IRNA that Iran's Atomic Energy Organization has been given license to set up another 20 nuclear plants, two of them by March 2006.
Iran's first nuclear plant is being built by Russia for USD 1 billion and is scheduled to begin operating by March 2006.
'Diplomatic pressure won't work'
According to Boroujerdi, the new power plants will be able to generate 20,000 megawatts of electricity. However, international and Israeli intelligence sources claim the program may be a front to build an atomic bomb, an allegation Iran's vigorously denies.
Last week Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said “Israel and other countries cannot accept a situation where Iran has nuclear arms.
“The issue is clear to us and we are making all the necessary preparations to handle a situation of this kind,” Sharon told journalists in Tel Aviv.
Israel needs not lead the campaign, yet we are in close contact with countries that are dealing with the issue,” the prime minister said.
Sharon said he agrees with U.S. President George W. Bush that dealing with Iran’s push for nuclear armament is a top priority, adding that he hoped the “large danger will be dealt with” by referring Iran to the United Nations Security Council.
“Israel is not hopeless and is taking all the necessary measures,” Sharon said.
IDF Chief of Staff Dan Halutz told foreign reporters Sunday he is skeptical that diplomatic pressure will put a halt to Iran's nuclear ambitions.
"The fact that the Iranians are successful time after time in getting away from international pressure...encourages them to continue their nuclear project," he said.
"I believe that the political means used by the Europeans and the U.S. to convince the Iranians to stop the project will not succeed," Halutz added.