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Israeli cities 'razed to round' if Iran nuclear plants attacked

By Agencies in Dubai and Beijing | China Daily | Updated: 2013-03-23 08:01

Israeli cities 'razed to round' if Iran nuclear plants attacked

Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei warned on Thursday that the Islamic Republic would destroy the Israeli cities of Tel Aviv and Haifa if its nuclear infrastructure came under attack from the Israelis.

China on Friday called for relevant parties to resolve disputes through dialogue.

"China consistently advocates developing political relations on the basis of the Five Principles of Peaceful coexistence, and hopes relevant parties safeguard regional peace and stability through dialogue," said Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei at a daily news conference.

Israel puts little stock in big-power negotiations aimed at curbing Iran's uranium enrichment - which Western nations suspect is a conduit to nuclear weapons capability - and has repeatedly hinted at pre-emptive war.

During a visit to Israel on Thursday, US President Barack Obama acknowledged its security concerns, saying the United States "will do what we must to prevent a nuclear Iran". But he also said big powers believed there is still time for a diplomatic solution.

Russia said Iran and six global powers made headway in expert-level talks this week to ease the 10-year standoff, but the risk of backsliding toward confrontation remained.

Higher-level political talks between the powers and Iran are to resume in the Kazakh city of Almaty early next month, part of a concerted effort to avert another Middle East war that could lead to increased oil prices and wreak havoc on the global economy.

Khamenei, in a televised speech marking the Iranian new year, said: "At times, the officials of the Zionist regime (Israel) threaten to launch a military invasion but they themselves know that if they make the slightest mistake, the Islamic Republic will raze Tel Aviv and Haifa to the ground."

But the most powerful figure in Iran, dismissed any threat from Israel, describing it as "not big enough to stand out among the Iranian nation's enemies".

The standoff now turns on Iran's enrichment of uranium to a fissile purity of 20 percent, which the West sees as a big step toward processing the material for use in nuclear bombs. Teheran says 20 percent enrichment will yield solely fuel for a medical research reactor, and that its nuclear quest is wholly peaceful.

"We have told you numerous times that we are not after nuclear weapons," Khamenei said, addressing Washington in front of thousands of adoring faithful who had come to the Imam Reza Shrine in Mashhad to hear him speak.

Khamenei responded coolly to recent US suggestions of direct talks between the two countries, which have had no diplomatic relations since Iran's 1979 Islamic Revolution.

"I am not optimistic about these talks. Why? Because our past experiences show that talks for the US officials do not mean for us to sit down and reach a logical solution," he said.

China Daily-Reuters-AFP

(China Daily 03/23/2013 page7)

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