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Iran to 'retaliate' if attacked by Israel
Iran's envoy reacting to Israeli PM's remarks says his country is "strong enough" and "reserves full right" to hit back.
Last Modified: 28 Sep 2012 13:01

Iran has vowed to "retaliate" against any attack after Israel's prime minister called for a "red line" to prevent it from acquiring a nuclear bomb.

Eshagh Al Habib, the Iranian deputy ambassador to the UN, said on Thursday that his country "is strong enough to defend itself and reserves its full right to retaliate with full force against any attack".

Habib, who denied any nuclear military programme, told the UN General Assembly (UNGA) that Israel is a "regime which is based on terrorism and is the father founder of state terrorism in the world".

He said Iran's nuclear programme was "exclusively peaceful and in full conformity with our international obligations".

The Iranian envoy accused Binyamin Netanyahu, Israel's prime minister, of making "baseless allegations" against Iran during a firebrand speech to the UN assembly earlier in the day.

Netanyahu called for "a clear red line on Iran's nuclear weapons program" in his address to the 193-member assembly.

In a speech that accused Iran of backing terrorism around the world, Netanyahu said: "At this late hour, there is only one way to peacefully prevent Iran from getting atomic bombs and that's by placing a clear red line on Iran's nuclear weapons programme. Red lines don't lead to war; red lines prevent war."

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Mark Regev, spokesperson for Netanyahu's office, told Al Jazeera the prime minister was trying to maintain peace.

"Do we just let the clock tick itself out? No, we establish a clear red line. That's the way to maintain the peace, and make war further distant," he said.

Habib's comments came after Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the Iranian president, said in his UNGA speech on Wednesday that Iran was under threat of military action from "uncivilised Zionists", a reference to Israel.

"For the second time in the recent history of the United Nations, today an unfounded and imaginary graph was used to justify a threat against a founding member of the United Nations," Habib said, referring to a cartoon version of a bomb with a lit fuse which Netanyahu used in his speech to illustrate his point.

Habib said Netanyahu had "shamelessly and hypocritically" made the accusations, adding that Israel is a non-declared nuclear power.

Baseless claims

The Iranian envoy also accused Israel of organising operations in Iran that led to the murder of several of its nuclear scientists.

Marwan Bishara, Al Jazeera's senior political analyst, said claims about Iran being close to building a nulcear bomb have been made in the past but are not "credible".

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"If I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard that 'time has run out on Iran’s nuclear programme', I’d probably be a millionaire by now. We’ve heard this for the last 25 years, it’s just that it’s not very credible."

Israel has warned that it could launch military action against Iran in order to prevent it reaching a certain nuclear threshold, and has urged the international community to force Tehran to abandon its atomic quest.

Barack Obama, the US president, vowed in his address to the UN on Tuesday that he would prevent Iran from getting the bomb but his administration has repeatedly rejected imposing a red line on Tehran.

Iran is reeling under a strong sanctions regime imposed by the UN, US and the EU to try to force it to abandon the nuclear programme.

The Israeli newspaper Haaretz ran excerpts from a leaked foreign ministry report that sanctions had caused greater damage to Iran's economy than anticipated by Israel.

The findings, confirmed to the Reuters news agency by an Israeli official, could undermine any attempt by Netanyahu to argue that the military alternative must be considered imminently.

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Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
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