UNITED NATIONS – Iran’s foreign minister told diplomats today at a United Nations meeting on efforts to counter “nuclear terrorism” that that’s exactly what Israel and the United States have been engaged in.
It was in the General Assembly on Thursday that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu challenged the international community to act against Iran’s nuclear efforts “before it is too late.”
The prime minister pointedly left open the option of a military attack to prevent Tehran from perfecting a nuclear bomb, if need be.
Tehran’s foreign minister, Ali Akbar Salehi, told a U.N. symposium meeting on the occasion of the General Assembly that the Security Council is legally obligated to “utilize its authority to act against those states undertaking cyber attacks and sabotage of peaceful nuclear facilities and the killing of nuclear scientists of other countries.”
Salehi was alluding to a series of computer viruses that penetrated Iran’s new Russian-built nuclear power station in Bushehr and nuclear research facility in Natanz.
It was unclear just how much damage was done in the cyber attacks, which Iran insists originated in Jerusalem and Washington.
Both facilities were offline for several weeks until the affected equipment could be replaced.
Neither Israel or the U.S. has ever admitted any knowledge of or participation in any attack on the Iranian facilities.
In another series of incidents, several scientists holding key positions in Iran’s atomic research programs were gunned down by assailants who were never apprehended.
Tehran insists it’s all part of a greater project by the U.S. and Israel to wage a secret war with Iran.
In the Bushehr attack, Iran contends the International Atomic Energy Agency, the U.N. watchdog, has inspectors regularly onsite and officially verified it as a civilian power facility with no major violation of established safeguards.
The minister defined “nuclear terrorism” as “any act by any means against any facility where radioactive materials are present or the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons or radiological weapons or material with the intent to cause death or serious injury to people or substantial to property or the environment.”
Nuclear terrorism, he said also includes “sabotage in nuclear facilities or to compel a nation to do or refrain from doing such an act.”
In short, Salehi was describing efforts by the U.S. and Israel to thwart the Iran effort to flout the Security Council’s repeated demands that his country completely open all its nuclear operations to the IAEA.
IAEA Director General Yukia Amano, also present, described his continuing concerns about Iran, but stopped just short of accusing the Islamic Republic of seeking a secret atomic weapon.
Yet, it has been targeted for sabotage, say the Iranians.
William Burns, U.S. deputy secretary of state, took his turn on the podium.
Burns expressed the White House concerns about so-called “loose nukes” and a black market for nuclear materials.
“Four hundred incidents reported by governments to the IAEA since 1995, involving smuggling of nuclear or radioactive materials outside of regulatory control or other criminal activity, suggest the risk to us all is very real and complacency is a luxury we cannot afford,” he said.
Burns added that through Washington’s National Smuggling Outreach Initiative “we are helping to build and strengthen national government capacities to prevent , detect and respond to trafficking.”
The secretary ignored the Iranian charges.
Israel opted not to address the meeting.