Israel calls for Iran to be expelled from UN
Israel intensified demands on Thursday for Tehran to be expelled from the United Nations amid an international outcry over a call by Iran’s president for the Jewish state to be wiped off the map.
The international community expressed outrage at Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s inflammatory speech, which Israeli officials hope will galvanise efforts to penalise Tehran for alleged nuclear activities.
“It’s the first time since the creation of the UN in 1945 that one of its members has openly called for the destruction of another,” said Israeli Deputy Prime Minister Shimon Peres, calling for the UN to throw out Iran.
“Iran’s intentions are dangerous because this country wants to develop a nuclear weapon and long-range missiles,” he was quoted as saying.
The call was echoed by a spokesperson for Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.
“We believe this country does not have a place in the UN because it has long threatened the existence of the state of Israel with its nuclear programme and missiles,” he said. “Iran is our most dangerous enemy” and “threatens the free world”.
The prime minister’s office said there is a need to ask UN Secretary General Kofi Annan and the Security Council to expel Tehran.
It will be discussed during talks on Thursday between Peres and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. Russia, which has a contract to build Iran’s first nuclear power station, has a veto on the Security Council.
Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom said on Wednesday that Tehran represents “a clear and present danger” and that “the time has come to move the Iranian file to the Security Council and the sooner the better”.
His comments were echoed by the White House, which said Ahmadinejad’s comments “underscores the concerns we have about Iran’s nuclear operations”.
European Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso condemned as “unacceptable” the comments from Ahmadinejad, whose election in June spelled an end to years of social reform and sparked fresh alarm over Iran’s nuclear ambitions.
The British government said a suicide bombing in Israel on Wednesday illustrated the “horrible reality” of violence being praised, while Australian Prime Minister John Howard also called for UN action.
“To have the president of any country saying another should be wiped off the face of the earth is ...
an issue that the UN has to address”.
Hopes for support against Iran
Behind the scenes, senior Israeli officials hope the furore will harness greater international support for marginalising a country for allegedly sponsoring terrorism and building a nuclear arsenal.
One source at the foreign ministry said on condition of anonymity that the Iranian president “crossed a threshold in extremist talk”.
“We are asking the international community to react ... take sanctions to show it is not indifferent to totally unacceptable statements from member states amassing a nuclear weapon despite IAEA [International Atomic Energy Agency] efforts,” the official said.
“Thanks to this unprecedented effect, there is perhaps more chance that [the Iranian comments] will be taken more seriously,” the official added.
In a front-page commentary on a suicide bomb in northern Israel on Wednesday, the Yediot Aharonot newspaper accused Iran of being the prime sponsor of terrorism.
“Regrettably, Iran is a problem that Israel cannot solve on its own. We need America’s strong arm, but America’s arms are tied down in Iraq.
“The American administration resolved to go on the offensive in the Middle East. What a shame that it lost its way and attacked the wrong country.”—Sapa-AFP