Iran Vows to React Severely to Israeli Action Against Nuke Sites

Iran said it will react "most severely" to any Israeli action against its nuclear facilities, issuing the warning after Israel said the United States was selling it 500 bunker buster bombs.

Military officials said Tuesday that Israel will receive nearly 5,000 smart bombs, including the 500 one-ton bombs that can destroy two-yard-thick (two-meter-thick) concrete walls.

In 1981, Israel bombed Iraq's nuclear reactor before it could begin operating. On Wednesday Israel said that Iran will never abandon plans to develop nuclear weapons and called for quick action by the UN Security Council "to put an end to this nightmare."

Iran's Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi, asked Wednesday about the sale of the monster bombs, told reporters: "Israel has always been a threat, not only against Iran, but all countries."

The main conflict in the Middle East, Kharrazi said, is Israel's "freedom to produce as much as they need - nuclear bombs as well as other weapons of mass destruction."

"But be sure, any action by Israel certainly will be reacted by us, most severely," Kharrazi said after he met British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly's ministerial meeting.

Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom sidestepped the question Wednesday of whether Israel would take military action against Iran if it continued to pursue its nuclear ambitions.

"They are trying to buy time, and the time has come to move the Iranian case to the Security Council in order to put an end to this nightmare," he told reporters after meeting Secretary-General Kofi Annan.

"We know that the Europeans are trying now to engage with the Iranians, but we know that the Iranians will never abandon their plans to develop nuclear weapons. They're only trying to hide it," he said.

U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell, responding to a question about an Israeli attack on Iranian facilities similar to the Iraqi strike, said: "We're talking about diplomacy and political efforts to stop this movement on the part of the Iranians toward a nuclear weapon.

"We're not talking about strikes. But every option always, of course, remains on the table."

The UN atomic watchdog agency demanded last weekend that Iran freeze uranium enrichment and related activities, such as the building of centrifuges, within two months.

Failure to do so could lead to the International Atomic Energy Agency passing Iran's nuclear file to the UN Security Council, which could impose sanctions.

Iran vowed Tuesday to continue a nuclear program some suspect is aimed at developing weapons, even if it means ending cooperation with the UN nuclear watchdog. Iran maintains its uranium enrichment program is to generate electricity, not produce nuclear weapons.

"We consider it our right to develop nuclear technology for peaceful purposes," said Karrazi, the Iranian foreign minister.

He insisted "there are ways and means to arrive at a compromise" over the demands to halt its enrichment program.

Besides the 500 one-ton killer bombs in the arms sale, Israel will get 2,500 one-ton bombs, 1,000 half-ton bombs and 500 quarter-ton bombs, the IDF officials said.

Israel's announcement of the sale came after the U.S. Defense Security Cooperation Agency notified Congress of a possible military sale to Israel worth as much as 319 million dollars (-260 million).

The agency said in a June 1 press release that the sale "will contribute to the foreign policy and national security of the United States by helping to improve the security of a friendly country that has been and continues to be an important force for political stability and economic progress in the Middle East."