UNITED NATIONS - Iran asked the United Nations on Monday to take a stand against American threats that it said included possible nuclear strikes on its territory and that were "in total contempt of international law."
In a letter to Secretary General Kofi Annan, Javad Zarif, Iran's ambassador to the United Nations, pointed to recent comments by President Bush and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on ways to halt Iran's nuclear program and to news reports of Pentagon planning for possible nuclear attacks on nuclear facilities in Iran.
"Such dangerous statements, particularly those of the United States president, widely considered in political and media circles as a tacit confirmation of the shocking news on the administration's possible contemplation of nuclear strikes against certain targets in Iran, defiantly articulate the United States' policies and intentions on the resort to nuclear weapons," Mr. Zarif wrote in the letter. He made no mention of any specific news reports, referring only to "recent news in U.S. newspapers."
He said the comments by the United States were "matters of extreme gravity that require an urgent, concerted and resolute response on the part of the United Nations, and particularly the Security Council."
Mr. Zarif also faulted the United Nations for remaining silent on "these illegal and inexcusable threats" and said the lack of action had "emboldened senior United States officials to go further and even consider the use of nuclear weapons as 'an option on the table.' "
American officials have said they are pursuing a diplomatic solution to the dispute over Iran's nuclear program, but they have repeatedly said that all options, including military ones, are being considered. Iran says its nuclear program is only for producing energy, but the United States and its European allies contend that Iran is preparing to build weapons.
Mr. Bush, asked at the White House on April 18 if the United States was considering military action against Iran, said, "All options are on the table."
Two days later, Ms. Rice echoed the president in a speech to the Chicago Council on Foreign Relations. In his letter, Mr. Jarif made specific mention of both comments.
Stéphane Dujarric, Mr. Annan's spokesman, said that the letter from Mr. Zarif had been received but that there would be no immediate comment.
Last month, the Security Council adopted a nonbinding statement that urged Iran to stop enriching uranium and asked the International Atomic Energy Agency to report on Iran's compliance by the end of April.
That report, issued Friday, said that Iran had failed to comply and that it had drastically curtailed its cooperation with the agency's inspectors as it sped forward with nuclear enrichment.
The United States, Britain and France are preparing a resolution to be circulated to Security Council members this week. The resolution would require Iran to stop nuclear enrichment under Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter, which makes compliance mandatory under international law and holds out the possibility of economic penalties and military action.
China and Russia are expected to object to any measure that imposes sanctions on Iran, and weeks of negotiations are anticipated.
Copyright 2006 The New York Times Company