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Sat Jan 31 07:29:15 SAST 2015

UN must speak with one voice to still 'shrill talk of war'

The Times Editorial | 26 September, 2012 00:05

The Times Editorial: Fears that Israel, and possibly its most significant ally, the US, might be drawn into a war with Iran over Teheran's apparent determination to press ahead with efforts to obtain nuclear weapons have risen in recent months.

Iran, which insists that its nuclear programme is exclusively for peaceful purposes, has prevented international atomic energy inspectors from gaining access to key sites.

Over the years, Iranian nuclear and other facilities have been attacked by cyber viruses and figures in its atomic programme have been assassinated.

In the past three months, senior security and political figures in Israel - which Teheran says should be "eliminated" - have made public statements suggesting that war will be inevitable if Iran's nuclear weapons drive is not thwarted.

The atmosphere is starting to resemble that of the run-up to the Second Gulf War.

Yesterday, a clearly troubled UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon warned states against threatening to attack one another.

''Any such attacks would be devastating. The shrill war talk of recent weeks has been alarming,'' he said.

In his speech to the UN, President Barack Obama declared that the US would ''do what we must'' to stop Iran acquiring nuclear weapons, saying a nuclear-armed Iran ''would threaten the elimination of Israel, the security of Gulf nations and the stability of the global economy''.

But Obama, in trying to assuage the concerns of the Israeli government, was careful to leave the door open for further diplomatic efforts to dissuade Teheran from continuing on its chosen path - even while warning that the time for diplomacy was ''not unlimited''.

The UN has been hamstrung by divisions over how to tackle the Syria crisis. It must now act decisively, and with unity of purpose, to find a lasting diplomatic solution on Iran.

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