World Not Doing Enough To Stop Iran, Sharon Says In Interview

By Julie Stahl | July 7, 2008 | 8:15 PM EDT

Jerusalem ( - The international community is not putting enough pressure on Iran to halt its nuclear weapons development program, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said in an interview published Wednesday.

Iran, which is completing its first nuclear reactor with Russian help, repeatedly has denied that it is seeking to obtain nuclear weapons. It says its reactor will be used to generate electricity, a claim greeted with international skepticism.

Both the U.S. and Israel are convinced that Tehran is using the development of a civilian nuclear program to hide the development of nuclear weapons.

"Actions are being taken but I don't think the pressure is enough," Sharon was quoted as saying in an interview with the Jerusalem Post , portions of which were published on Wednesday.

"There is no doubt" that Iran is attempting to obtain atomic weapons, Sharon said. "That is their intention, and they are doing it by deception and subterfuge, using this cover or that. This is completely clear."

According to the paper, Sharon wants more supervision of Iran. He also wants the United Nations Security Council to impose sanctions on Tehran to stop its nuclear weapons development.

Israel is not heading the efforts against Iran, but it is nevertheless "taking its own measures to defend itself," Sharon said without disclosing details.

"I don't see that the [international] activity against them is enough to stop them from obtaining nuclear weapons," Sharon said. This is a "very big danger" particularly because Iran has developed the Shihab-3 missile, with a range capable of hitting Israel, he said, and they are developing a missile with an even longer range -- 2,500 kilometers (1,500 miles).

"This is a country that calls for the destruction of Israel - the moderates call for the destruction of Israel and the Jewish people - and they are doing everything to get weapons of mass destruction," he added.

Unnamed diplomats were quoted in media reports on Tuesday as saying that Iran had agreed to re-freeze its uranium enrichment program.

Iran broke an earlier agreement with several European countries not to assemble centrifuges used in the enrichment process. Enriched uranium could be used for nuclear weapons.

But returning from Europe on Wednesday, Iran's Supreme National Security Council head Hassan Rowhani indicated that his country had not given up its pursuit of uranium enrichment.

"Iran regards access to fuel cycle as its legal and logical right and will not abandon it. It tries to follow up this goal in the most appropriate time and in the best possible way," Rowhani was quoted as saying by the official Iranian news agency IRNA.

Rowhani also said the he did not believe that the International Atomic Energy Agency would refer Iran to the Security Council.

The IAEA Board of Governors is set to meet next Monday for at least three days. The subject of Iran's nuclear program is high on the agenda.

The U.S. would like the Security Council to take up the case. But European countries have resisted, preferring diplomatic means other than sanctions to persuade Iran.

Commenting on the diplomatic efforts, Secretary of State Colin Powell said on Tuesday that the response from Iran had not been "very positive or constructive."

"Time is passing, and this is a matter that should go to the Security Council as quickly as possible," Powell said.

Another Security Council member, Russia, insists that Iran is not seeking nuclear weapons.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, who visited Israel earlier this week, reportedly told his Israeli counterpart Silvan Shalom that if Israel has proof that Iran is developing atomic weapons it should bring that proof to Russia.

In a dig at the U.S., Lavrov was quoted as saying that "the next time anyone wants to attack one of the countries in the axis of evil, they should first come with proof" of the existence of WMD.

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