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IRAN: Tehran takes war case against Israel to U.N.

June 7, 2008 |  1:52 pm

Mofaz

Maybe he was just playing politics, painting himself as a hawk to take on his battered rival. Maybe he was revving up the world for war against the country of his birth.

In any case, an Israeli cabinet minister's remark calling a war against Iran "unavoidable" has had global repercussions, sending oil prices to record highs and drawing condemnation today at the United Nations and by the chief of the International Atomic Energy Agency.

Israeli Transport Minister Shaul Mofaz, in remarks published Friday, said Iran's drive to master the enrichment of uranium, a key component in creating a domestic nuclear weapon program as well as peaceful nuclear energy, guaranteed a war:

If Iran continues with its program for developing nuclear weapons, we will attack it. The sanctions are ineffective. Attacking Iran, in order to stop its nuclear plans, will be unavoidable.

Of course, Iran has strenuously denied it is trying to develop nuclear weapons. This week, Iranian supreme leader Ali Khamenei reiterated his long-held position that nuclear weapons are against Islam. Israel, meanwhile, has hundreds of nukes. But many in the U.S., Israel and international arms control circles believe Iran is at least trying to have the capacity to quickly build nuclear weapons if it wanted them. 

Mofaz, an Israeli of Iranian descent, is an ambitious fella. He's among those vying for the leadership of scandal-ridden Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's Kadima Party. What better way to grab the spotlight than to make some incendiary remarks about Iran?

Though Israeli and U.S. officials distanced themselves from Mofaz, his comments prompted Iran to demand that the U.N. Security Council take action.

Iran's envoy to the U.N., Mohammad Khazaee, sent a letter Friday to U.N. Secretary-General Ban-ki Moon calling the comment "unlawful."

The note was released today:

Such a dangerous threat against a sovereign state and a member of the United Nations constitutes a manifest violation of international law and contravenes the most fundamental principles of the charter of the United Nations, and, thus, requires a resolute and clear response on the part of the United Nations, particularly the Security Council.

U.S. and Israeli officials have often condemned Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's calls for the destruction of Israel.

Meanwhile, in an excerpt from an interview to be published next week in Germany's Der Spiegel, U.N. nuclear watchdog chief Mohamed ElBaradei condemned threats of war with Iran to stop its nuclear program, like those made by Mofaz.

"With unilateral military actions, countries are undermining international agreements," he said.

He also took Iran to task, saying that Tehran is sending "a message to the entire world: We can build a bomb in relatively short time."

Borzou Daragahi

Photo: Israeli Transport Minister Shaul Mofaz, center, speaks to the reporters at the Kfar Kharuv lookout in the Golan Heights. Credit: David Silverman / Getty Images

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