Iran says it reserves right to retaliate if attacked

UNITED NATIONS Thu Sep 27, 2012 10:47pm EDT

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - Iran responded to Israel's "red line" for Tehran's nuclear program on Thursday by declaring it was strong enough to defend itself and that it reserved the right to retaliate with full force against any attack.

In a response to a speech at the U.N. General Assembly by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Iran's U.N. mission said Israel had made "baseless and absurd allegations against (its) exclusively peaceful nuclear program."

"While the use, or threat of use, of force under any pretext is a grave violation of the principles of (the) UN Charter and international law, as well as the norms of international relations, the officials of the Israeli regime are so rude (they) on (a) daily basis threaten countries in the region, particularly my country, (with) military attack," Iran said.

"The Islamic Republic of Iran is strong enough to defend itself and reserves its full right to retaliate with full force against any attack," the Iranian mission said in the written statement.

Netanyahu drew his "red line" for Iran's nuclear program on Thursday, despite a U.S. refusal to set an ultimatum, saying Tehran will be on the brink of a nuclear weapon in less than a year.

For nearly 10 years, Britain, France, Germany, the United States, Russia and China have negotiated unsuccessfully with Iran to persuade it to halt its nuclear program in exchange for political and economic incentives.

Iran denies seeking nuclear weapons, saying its atomic program is solely for peaceful purposes such as generating electricity and producing medical isotopes.

(Reporting by Arshad Mohammed, John Irish and Michelle Nichols; Editing by Peter Cooney and Stacey Joyce)

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