Iran build­ing weapons fac­to­ries in Le­banon and Syria, Israel says

Miami Herald - - FRONT PAGE -

JERUSALEM — Israel is us­ing a visit this week by the United Na­tions sec­re­tary­gen­eral, An­to­nio Guter­res, to high­light con­cerns about what it says are Iran’s ef­forts to pro­duce ad­vanced, pre­ci­sion weapons in Le­banon and Syria.

“Iran is busy turn­ing Syria into a base of mil­i­tary en­trench­ment,” Prime Min­is­ter Ben­jamin Ne­tanyahu said Mon­day at a news con­fer­ence with Guter­res, “and it wants to use Syria and Le­banon as war fronts against its de­clared goal to erad­i­cate Israel.”

Ne­tanyahu as­serted that Iran “is build­ing sites to pro­duce pre­ci­sion-guided mis­siles to­ward that end in both Syria and in Le­banon.”

He added: “This is some­thing Israel can­not ac­cept. This is some­thing the U.N. should not ac­cept.”

Israel’s de­fense min­is­ter, Avid­gor Lieber­man, also spoke in his meet­ing with Guter­res about Israel’s con­cerns about fac­to­ries for pre­ci­sion weapons and what he called Iran’s re­peated at­tempts to smug­gle arms into Le­banon.

The as­ser­tions are not new, but Israel now ap­pears to want to put them on the in­ter­na­tional agenda.

Israel’s chief of mil­i­tary in­tel­li­gence, Maj. Gen. Herzl Halevi, told an au­di­ence at a pol­icy con­fer­ence in Her­zliya, Israel, in June that Iran had been work­ing dur­ing the past year to set up in­de­pen­dent pro­duc­tion fa­cil­i­ties in Le­banon to man­u­fac­ture pre­cise weapons, which use ad­vanced tech­nol­ogy to guide them to spe­cific tar­gets.

The ben­e­fi­ciary, he said, would be Hezbol­lah, the Le­banese Shi­ite or­ga­ni­za­tion, with which Israel fought an in­con­clu­sive, month-long war in 2006. Adding that Iran was set­ting up sim­i­lar fa­cil­i­ties in Yemen, Halevi warned, “We can­not re­main in­dif­fer­ent to this and we don’t.”

Is­raeli lead­ers also pressed Guter­res to prod the U.N. peace­keep­ing force in Le­banon, UNIFIL, into ful­fill­ing its man­date to pre­vent Hezbol­lah’s weapons buildup.

“I will do ev­ery­thing in my ca­pac­ity to make sure that UNIFIL fully meets its man­date,” said Guter­res, vis­it­ing Israel and the Pales­tinian ter­ri­to­ries for the first time since tak­ing up the top U.N. post in Jan­uary. He added that “the idea or the in­ten­tion or the will to de­stroy the state of Israel is some­thing to­tally un­ac­cept­able from my per­spec­tive.”

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