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UN to reveal new evidence of Iran atomic bomb drive
by Staff Writers
Vienna (AFP) Nov 6, 2011

'Everything must be done' to avoid Iran conflict: France
Paris (AFP) Nov 6, 2011 - French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe said on Sunday that sanctions against Iran should be toughened and that "everything must be done" to avoid a military conflict over Tehran's nuclear programme.

"We have imposed sanctions that continue to expand, we can toughen them to put pressure on Iran," Juppe told Europe 1 radio.

"We will continue on this path because a military intervention could create a situation that completely destabilises the region," he said.

"Everything must be done to avoid the irreversible," he said.

Juppe also said he expected a report by the UN's nuclear watchdog due in the next few days to confirm Iran was seeking to develop nuclear weapons.

"Iran is acting badly. We are convinced that the next report from the International Atomic Energy Agency will likely indicate that its nuclear programme is military, therefore that it is preparing to have a bomb," he said.

"This is not acceptable, it is in violation of international treaties and it is a threat destabilising the entire region and beyond."

Israeli President Shimon Peres warned on Sunday that an attack on Iran was becoming increasingly likely, as speculation in Israel has grown about the possibility of an pre-emptive strike against Iranian nuclear facilities.

Media reports have suggested no final decision has been taken and that a report by the IAEA on November 8 or 9 would have a "decisive effect" on decision-making.

A new report from the UN atomic watchdog this week will provide fresh evidence of Iran's nuclear weapons drive, diplomats said Sunday, as Israel stoked speculation about a possible pre-emptive strike.

Previous International Atomic Energy Agency assessments have centred on Iran's efforts to produce fissile material -- uranium and plutonium -- which can be put to peaceful uses like power generation, or be used to make a nuclear bomb.

But the intelligence update, which diplomats say will be circulated among IAEA members on Tuesday or Wednesday, will focus on Iran's alleged efforts towards putting radioactive material in a warhead and developing missiles.

"The report is not going to include some sort of 'smoking gun'," one Western diplomat told AFP. "But it will be an extensive body of evidence that will be very hard for Iran to refute as forgery, as they have done in the past."

Iranian officials have already seen the Vienna-based IAEA's information, diplomats told AFP, and Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi said in comments published in Iran on Sunday that it was based on "counterfeit" claims.

IAEA head Yukiya Amano said in September's report he was "increasingly concerned" about the "possible military dimension" of Iran's atomic activities, including those "related to the development of a nuclear payload for a missile."

In May the agency listed seven areas of concern such as equipment and instrumentation for testing explosives over long distances, possibly underground, and "modelling studies" on arming a Shahab-3 missile with a nuclear payload.

The new intelligence, expected in an annex of the main Iran report, will include satellite imagery of a suspected nuclear installation at the Parchin military site 30 kilometres (20 miles) from Tehran, diplomats said.

According to analysts, Tehran has a fleet of ballistic missiles under development, the most capable of which has a range long enough to reach US bases in the Middle East, and Israel, fired from deep within Iran.

Western envoys hope the new IAEA report will help convince other countries to pile more pressure on the Islamic republic, which has been hit with four rounds of sanctions by the UN Security Council.

But Russia and China are unconvinced on the need for more action, diplomats say, with Moscow even going so far as to call openly on the IAEA not to release the report, saying it "may hinder the start of serious negotiations."

It is therefore unclear what resolution, if any, the IAEA's 35-nation board will adopt when it meets on November 17-18, with options including referral to the Security Council or setting Iran a new deadline.

"Would it be worth it to again divide the board on this issue, and also divide the E3+3?," asked Oliver Thraenert of the German Institute for International and Security Affairs, meaning the Security Council permanent members and Germany.

"To me that would not make much sense, although much will depend on the exact language of the report," he told AFP.

In either case, the release of the IAEA report comes at a time of growing speculation that Israel might launch a military strike in an attempt to knock out its arch-foe's nuclear activities.

Israeli daily Haaretz reported last week that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was seeking cabinet backing for a military strike, and that the new UN watchdog report would have a "decisive" influence.

"The possibility of a military attack against Iran is now closer to being applied than the application of a diplomatic option," Israeli President Shimon Peres warned on Sunday.

"I don't think that any decision has already been made, but there is an impression that Iran is getting closer to nuclear weapons."

In June 1981, Israeli planes bombed and destroyed an uncompleted French nuclear reactor in Iraq, and in 2007 it destroyed a suspected covert nuclear reactor in the Syrian desert.

Washington, whose relations with Tehran soured further last month over an alleged plot to kill the Saudi ambassador to the United States, has said that while the focus is on a diplomatic solution, all options are still on the table.

French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe said Sunday that sanctions should be toughened and that "everything must be done" to avoid a military conflict.


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Tensions rise over an Israel-Iran conflict
Washington (UPI) Nov 4, 2011
Anxiety is rising in world capitals over possible pre-emptive military strikes by Israel against Iran over the threat posed by Tehran's nuclear program. Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, together with Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, are said to be lobbying Cabinet members to agree to attacks on Iranian military facilities, Israeli news reports state. Punctuating thos ... read more

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