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Israel, Iran trade accusations at Security Council meeting

United Nations, United States | April 15, 2024, Monday @ 07:13 in World » GENERAL | By: AFP | Views: 2246
Israel, Iran trade accusations at Security Council meeting

Israeli Ambassador to the UN Gilad Erdan listens during a United Nations Security Council meeting on the situation in the Middle East, including Iran's recent attack against Israel, at UN headquarters in New York City on April 14, 2024. Erdan urged the Security Council to impose "all possible sanctions" against Iran after the Islamic republic's unprecedented attack against Israel. (Photo by Charly TRIBALLEAU / AFP)

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Israel and Iran accused one another Sunday at the United Nations of being the main threat to peace in the Middle East, each calling on the Security Council to impose sanctions on their sworn enemy.

"The mask is off. Iran, the number one global sponsor of terror, has exposed its true face as the destabilizer of the region and the world," Israel's UN Ambassador Gilad Erdan told an emergency meeting of the Security Council convened after Tehran's unprecedented attack on Israel overnight.

"The mask comes off and the gloves must come on," he said, imploring the body to "take action."

Erdan asked the Security Council to designate the Revolutionary Guards, the Islamic Republic's ideological army, as a terrorist organization and to "impose all possible sanctions on Iran before it's too late."

In particular, he referred to the "snapback" mechanism that allows members of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal -- which the United States exited in 2018 -- to reimpose international sanctions against Tehran.

"We have a collective responsibility as members of the Security Council to ensure that Iran complies with the council's resolutions and ceases its violations of the charter," said Deputy US Ambassador Robert Wood.

In the coming days the United States will "explore additional measures to hold Iran accountable."

Late Saturday, Iran launched a direct attack on its arch foe Israel for the first time, firing more than 300 missiles and drones.

Nearly all were intercepted by Israel and others, including the United States, Jordan and Britain.

Iran said its attack came in response to a deadly April 1 air strike on Tehran's consulate building in Syria's capital Damascus that was widely blamed on Israel.

That attack killed seven Iranian Revolutionary Guards, including two senior generals.

- On 'the brink' -

Addressing the emergency meeting, Iran's UN Ambassador Amir Saeid Iravani insisted the Islamic republic was exercising its "inherent right to self-defense."

"The Security Council... failed in its duty to maintain international peace and security," Iravani said.

Therefore, Tehran "had no choice" but to respond, he said, adding that his country does "not seek escalation or war," but will respond to any "threat or aggression."

He also lashed out at Israel.

"It is time for the Security Council to shoulder its responsibility and address the real threat to international peace and security," Iravani said.

The body "must take urgent and punitive measures to compel this regime to stop a genocide against the people of Gaza."

The rising tensions come against the backdrop of Israel's six-month-old war against Hamas in Gaza, which began after the Palestinian militant group's October 7 attack in Israel, which resulted in the deaths of 1,170 people, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally based on Israeli figures.

Israel's retaliatory offensive has killed at least 33,729 people in Gaza, mostly women and children, according to the territory's Hamas-run health ministry.

Since the 1979 Iranian revolution Israel has been considered a sworn enemy by the Islamic republic, which calls for Israel's destruction.

Until now, Tehran had refrained from attacking Israel head-on, and the two countries have opted instead to confronting each other through third parties.

On Sunday United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres urged restraint, telling the emergency meeting that "neither the region nor the world can afford more war."

"Now is the time to defuse and de-escalate," he said.

Guterres also repeated his condemnation of Iran's strikes on Israel, and the attack on Iran's consulate in Damascus.

"It's time to step back from the brink," Guterres said.

© Agence France-Presse

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