Israel, Iran Trade Barbs at U.N. Disarmament Meeting

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) -

Israel and Iran exchanged sharp criticisms at a meeting of the U.N. General Assembly’s disarmament committee, accusing each other of being a major destabilizing force in the Middle East.

Israeli Ambassador Alon Roth-Snir told the United Nations’ First Committee on Friday that “Iran remains the most significant threat to the security of the Middle East and beyond.”

He reiterated his government’s strong opposition to a historic nuclear agreement between Tehran and six world powers, saying it was “unlikely to stop Iran’s relentless pursuit of a nuclear weapons’ capability.” He accused Tehran of continuing “vehement anti-Semitic rhetoric and threats against Israel.”

Iran U.N. Ambassador Gholamali Khoshrou in turn accused Israel, which is widely presumed to have the region’s only nuclear arsenal, of being “the only impediment … towards realizing a nuclear weapon free zone in the Middle East.”`

Roth-Snir also raised concerns about the use of chemical weapons in Syria’s civil war. He said the removal and destruction of Syria’s declared chemical arsenal was an important achievement. But he cautioned that the government maintained a residual chemical weapons capability while the use of weapons with poison gas in Israel’s neighbor was increasing.

“It is all the more troubling that due to the frequent use of chemical weapons by the Syrian regime, the use of such agents is emulated by terror organizations and has become almost commonplace during the fighting,” Roth-Snir said.