UNITED NATIONS – Iran warned that it will react "most severely" to any Israeli action against its nuclear facilities, after Israel said the United States was selling it 500 bunker buster bombs.
Israeli military officials said Tuesday that the Jewish state will receive nearly 5,000 smart bombs, including the 500 one-ton bombs that can destroy six-foot concrete walls. In 1981, Israel bombed Iraq's nuclear reactor before it could begin operating.
Iran's Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi (search), asked Wednesday about the sale of the bombs, told reporters: "Israel has always been a threat, not only against Iran, but all countries."
Kharrazi said the main conflict in the Middle East is Israel's "freedom to produce as much as they need — nuclear bombs as well as other weapons of mass destruction."
"But be sure, any action by Israel certainly will be reacted (to) by us, most severely," Kharrazi said after he met British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw (search) on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly's ministerial meeting.
The purchase came after the U.N. atomic watchdog agency demanded last weekend that Iran freeze uranium enrichment and related activities, such as the building of centrifuges, within two months. Failure to do so could lead to the International Atomic Energy Agency passing Iran's nuclear file to the U.N. Security Council, which could impose sanctions.
Iran vowed Tuesday to continue a nuclear program some suspect is aimed at developing weapons, even if it means ending cooperation with the U.N. nuclear watchdog. Iran maintains its uranium enrichment program is to generate electricity not produce nuclear weapons.
Israeli Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom said Wednesday that Iran will never abandon plans to develop nuclear weapons and called for quick action by the U.N. Security Council "to put an end to this nightmare."
Shalom sidestepped the question of whether Israel would take military action against Iran if it continued to pursue its nuclear ambitions.
"They are trying to buy time, and the time has come to move the Iranian case to the Security Council in order to put an end to this nightmare," he told reporters after meeting Secretary-General Kofi Annan.
Secretary of State Colin Powell, responding to a question about an Israeli attack on Iranian facilities similar to the Iraqi strike, said: "We're talking about diplomacy and political efforts to stop this movement on the part of the Iranians toward a nuclear weapon.
"We're not talking about strikes. But every option always, of course, remains on the table."
Kharrazi insisted "there are ways and means to arrive at a compromise" over the demands that Iran halt its enrichment program.
Besides the 500 one-ton bombs in the arms sale, Israel will get 2,500 one-ton bombs, 1,000 half-ton bombs and 500 quarter-ton bombs, the Israeli military officials said.
Israel's announcement of the sale came after the U.S. Defense Security Cooperation Agency notified Congress of a possible military sale to Israel worth as much as $319 million.
The agency said in a June 1 press release that the sale "will contribute to the foreign policy and national security of the United States by helping to improve the security of a friendly country that has been and continues to be an important force for political stability and economic progress in the Middle East."