Sun, Oct 30, 2005 - Page 6 News List

Iran says it's not preparing for an attack on Israel

AGENCIES , TEHRAN AND CARACAS, VENEZUELA

Iran said on Saturday it stood by its UN commitments not to use violence against another country, responding to international criticism over remarks by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad vowing to destroy Israel.

"The Islamic Republic of Iran is committed to its UN charter commitments," a Foreign Ministry statement read. "It has never used force against a second country or threatened the use of force."

Ahmadinejad on Friday stood by his controversial stand that Israel should be "wiped off the map."

Ahmadinejad's remarks were condemned by the UN Security Council and capitals across the world summoned Iranian ambassadors to explain the president's comment.

The US said Ahmadinejad's remarks underscored its fears that Tehran is pursuing nuclear arms. Tehran denies the charge.

defiance

But Iran also said yesterday the Security Council's condemnation of Ahmadinejad's anti-Israel remarks was "unacceptable" and dictated by the "Zionist regime," the Iranian news agency IRNA reported.

"The declaration published by the Security Council -- proposed by the Zionist regime to cover its crimes and give an image at odds with reality -- is unacceptable," the foreign ministry said in a statement quoted by the agency.

The ministry expressed surprise that the Security Council did not condemn the threats of military action that were made against Tehran by the US and Israel or the "crimes" of the Israeli regime.

"How many times has the Security Council met to examine the threats made against one member of the United Nations and how many declarations has it made condemning them," it asked.

possible ally

Meanwhile, Iran is counting Venezuela as a friend and ally, an Iranian government official said on Friday, amid a diplomatic storm set off by Ahmadinejad's comments.

"We are two friendly countries, Iran and Venezuela ... When one is in need the other supports," Saeed Jalili, Iran's Vice Minister of Foreign Relations for Europe and America, said during a visit to Caracas.

Venezuela and Iran, both members of the oil exporters' cartel OPEC, have strengthened ties since President Hugo Chavez first won office in 1998 and tightened relations with other crude producing nations.

But Venezuela's Foreign Minister Ali Rodriguez appealed for caution on Friday and said that the South American nation would have to consider the comments of the Islamic Republic.

"For us to fix a position we need the official versions of the respective countries," Rodriguez told journalists.

Jalili, who spoke at a conference on the scientific aspects of Iran's nuclear program, plans to meet with Chavez and officials from Venezuela's Ministry of Energy and Petroleum's nuclear division during his visit.

defending rights

The Iranian official called on the nations of the region to defend their right to use nuclear technology toward peaceful ends, as he said Iran has done.

"We consider it a legitimate right. We defend these rights because to defend our rights is to defend the rights of all people, to defend the right of Venezuela and the rights of all the people of the South," Jalili said.

Chavez, a self-described socialist revolutionary fiercely opposed to the US administration, has raised concerns among some neighbors after announcing plans to develop a nuclear energy program.

Energy experts estimate it will take Venezuela at least five years of studies, training and investment to develop a sustainable nuclear energy project in the world's No. 5 oil exporter.

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