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Iran demanded on Tuesday a "resolute and clear response" from the United Nations to what it called dangerous threats against it by Israel, and said Tehran would not hesitate to respond to any attack.

A letter from Iran's UN Ambassador Mohammad Khazaee to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon described comments by two Israeli ministers as "vicious threats ... in blatant violation of the most fundamental principles of international law."

Israel believes Iran could have a nuclear bomb by 2010, a development it says would threaten its existence.

Khazaee said remarks attributed to Pensioners Affairs Minister Rafi Eitan by German magazine Der Spiegel this week "yet again put on display the aggressive and terrorist nature of the Israeli regime."

Der Spiegel quoted Eitan as saying in an interview that while the era of Israel hunting down former Nazi officials abroad was over, "that's not to say that such operations are a thing of the past."

Asked to explain, he was quoted as saying, "It could very well be that a leader such as Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad suddenly finds himself before the International Criminal Court in The Hague."

Last week, Defense Minister Ehud Barak said in an interview with Al Jazeera television that Israel was serious about using "any option" if diplomacy did not curb Iran's nuclear program.

"These dangerous threats of resorting to criminal acts ... require a resolute and clear response on the part of the United Nations, particularly the Security Council," Khazaee said.

"Iran ... in accordance with its inherent right under Article 51 of the Charter of the United Nations, would not hesitate to act in self-defense to respond to any attack against the Iranian nation and to take appropriate defensive measures to protect itself, its people and its officials."

The Security Council has passed three rounds of sanctions against Iran because of its refusal to stop uranium enrichment, which the West fears is aimed at making atomic bombs but Tehran says is solely for power generation.