Iran will retaliate if attacked

Iran said it will defend itself should Israel launch a military attack.

Prime Minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu uses a diagram of a bomb to describe Iran's nuclear program at the United Nations in New York on 27 September 2012. Picture: AFP/Don Emmert

UNITED NATIONS - 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.

Holding up a cartoon-like drawing of a bomb with a fuse, Netanyahu literally drew a red line just below a label reading "final stage" to a bomb, in which Iran was 90 percent along the path of having sufficient weapons-grade material.

Netanyahu told the United Nations he believes that faced with a clear red line; Iran will back down in a crisis that has sent jitters across the region and in financial markets.

"And this will give more time for sanctions and diplomacy to convince Iran to dismantle its nuclear weapons program altogether," he added.

Netanyahu's remarks were the closest he or any top Israeli official has come to publicly laying out precisely which Iranian actions could trigger an Israeli military strike on Tehran's nuclear infrastructure.