October 01, 2007
Dow Jones Newswires
UNITED NATIONS -- Israel's foreign minister called Monday for urgent U.N. action against Iran over its alleged nuclear ambitions, criticizing countries that have stood in the way of tough measures "in the name of consensus and engagement."
In comments apparently directed at China and Russia, Tzipi Livni cast the Iran nuclear dispute as a test of the United Nation's relevancy. Both countries, which are among the five veto-wielding permanent members of the Security Council, have resisted imposing a third set of sanctions against Iran despite the Islamic country's refusal to abandon its uranium enrichment program - a possible pathway to nuclear arms.
"No responsible state disagrees that Iran is the most prominent sponsor of terrorism," Livni said in a speech in the General Assembly. "None disagrees that Iran denies the Holocaust and speaks openly of its desire to wipe a member state - mine - off the map."
"And none disagree that, in violation of Security Council resolutions, it is actively pursuing the means to achieve this end," she said. "But there are still those who, in the name of consensus and engagement, continue to obstruct the urgent steps which are needed to bring Iran's sinister ambitions to a halt."
Iran, whose seat at the General Assembly was empty while Livni spoke, says its nuclear program seeks only to develop an alternative source of energy.
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad declared the dispute "closed" during his U.N. speech last week and vowed Iran would continue ignoring demands to halt uranium enrichment. He said only the International Atomic Energy Agency, the U.N.'s nuclear watchdog, would be allowed to monitor the nation's activities.
"What is the value, we have to ask, of an organization which is unable to take effective action in the face of a direct assault on the very principles it was founded to effect?" Livni said. "It is time for the United Nations, and the states of the world, to live up to their promise of never again."
The U.S., France and the U.K. have been vocal backers of new U.N. sanctions against Iran. But last week, Russia said sanctions would undermine efforts by the IAEA to persuade Iran to reveal its past nuclear secrets. The U.N. nuclear monitor wrested a promise from Iran in July to clear up its nuclear record by year's end.
Livni also urged governments not to extend political recognition to militant groups like the Palestinian Hamas and Lebanon's Hezbollah, accusing them of exploiting democratic systems to pursue violent ends.
Hamas won Palestinian parliamentary elections in 2006 but has refused to renounce violence or recognize Israel's right to exist. In June, Hamas militants wrested the Gaza Strip from the more moderate Fatah movement of President Mahmoud Abbas, whose new government in the West Bank has international recognition.
"I know that the temptation to engage with extremists can be strong. It may seem to promise stability and quiet. We may hope that by feeding the beast we can gradually tame it," she said. "But we do a disservice to diversity when, in its name, we tolerate the intolerant."
"Groups such as Hamas and Hezbollah must be presented with a clear choice - between the path of violence and the path of legitimacy. They cannot have both," she said. link to original article