'United front.' Austrian FM with Peres
Photo: Mark Naiman, GPO

Peres to Austrian FM: West must end foot-dragging on Iran

Israeli president tells Austria's top diplomat inability to present united front against Tehran's nuclear program send message of weakness

President Shimon Peres told visiting Austrian Foreign Minister Michael Spindelegger on Wednesday that he is surprised by international community's conduct in the face of the Iranian nuclear threat.


During the meeting Peres referred to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as a dictator who shoots unarmed civilians, calls for genocide and roams the world as if he were a member of the club of civilized nations.


The president told Austria's top diplomat that Europe's moral voice on the issue is very important, adding that the Iranian people must not be left alone in their moral battle.


'Constructive steps.' Spindelegger (L) and Peres


According to Peres, a failure to stop would lead to a nuclear Middle East. He said the international community's inability to present a united front against Tehran is sending a message of weakness that will eventually prove to be detrimental to the free world.


FM Spindelegger, for his part, said that in light of Iranian President Ahmadinejad's recent announcement that his country is now able to enrich uranium to more than 80 percent purity, coming close to levels experts say would be needed for a nuclear bomb, the European Union realizes that action must be taken.


Spindelegger promised Peres that Austria, as a non-permanent member of the UN-Security Council, would take constructive steps to advance fresh sanctions against Iran without delay.


Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon also addressed the Iranian issue Wedneday, saying Iran is the source of "all that is bad in the Middle East, while Syria serves as its gateway."


Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told Russian President Dmitry Medvedev in Moscow this week that the time has come to impose crippling sanctions on Iran, but stressed that Israel was not planning a war with the Islamic Republic.


Netanyahu was responding to Ahmadinejad's claim that the Jewish state plans to launch a war this coming spring or summer.


A joint US-Russian-French letter obtained by Reuters on Tuesday said that "Iran's move to escalate uranium enrichment is unjustified because a draft nuclear deal it has snubbed lists guarantees for Tehran's benefit."


The letter to UN nuclear watchdog IAEA was a response to Iran's launch last week of higher-grade enrichment – raising suspicions of a quest for atomic bomb capability – on grounds that world powers were imposing unpalatable terms for the deal.


Reuters contributed to the report 


פרסום ראשון: 02.17.10, 13:47
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