Israel accuses Iran of trying to make nuclear arms


MSBCN

Israeli Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom told reporters after a meeting with his counterparts from the European Union that Tehran was enriching uranium and refusing to accept tougher inspections of its nuclear programme.

''Iran now is trying to do everything to have a nuclear weapon and that is threatening not only the Middle East, it is threatening Europe, the southern part of Russia,'' he said.

''And I think the EU should take a key role in the last efforts to prevent them from having this ability.''

Iran, branded part of an ''axis of evil'' by Washington, said on Sunday its Revolutionary Guards had been armed with a new medium-range missile, which analysts say could hit Israel -- a close U.S. ally -- or U.S. bases in the Middle East.

The deployment of the Shahab-3 missile came as Iran faces mounting scrutiny about a nuclear energy programme Washington says may be a front for a covert bid to make atomic arms.

Iranian officials have said reports that enriched uranium was found samples taken by U.N. inspectors in Iran were questionable.

Iran insists its nuclear facilities are geared to producing electricity, and diplomats say the presence of enriched uranium in the samples may in fact be the result of contamination.

EU foreign ministers last month demanded that Iran accept tougher inspections of its suspect nuclear programme, and linked compliance to progress on a pending trade deal. It was the most serious warning the EU had sent Tehran since they began negotiating a trade and cooperation agreement late last year.

Iran said on Monday it had no intention of pulling out of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, despite calls from some hardliners in the country to do so.