German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle warned Friday that "time is short" to achieve a solution to the dispute over Iran's uranium enrichment activities, which some Western countries suspect are aimed at producing nuclear weapons, dpa reported.
"We call for Iran to stop playing for time, the situation is serious indeed, time is short," Westerwelle said in a speech to the UN General Assembly while the IAEA said in a separate meeting that the threat of nuclear terrorism has not diminished.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Iran's nuclear activities constitute a threat to his country and has called for military action against Iran's nuclear plants. On Thursday Netanyahu called for a "clear red line" on Iran's production of highly enriched uranium.
"We want a political solution and we are putting all our efforts into achieving that goal," Westerwelle said.
The German diplomat said Iran has so far failed to provide evidence to the International Atomic Energy Agency that its controversial uranium enrichment activities were for intended civilian uses only.
The IAEA, which is tasked with monitoring nuclear plants around the world, has accused Iran's nuclear programme of lacking transparency.
Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi spoke to the UN meeting on countering nuclear terrorism at UN headquarters in New York as head of the Non-aligned Movement (NAM) and made no reference to his country's nuclear programme, which is under verbal attacks.
Salehi insisted that UN secretary General Ban Ki-moon's carried out this year a NAM request to hold an international conference on the Middle East that is free of nuclear weapons and weapons of mass destruction.
Salehi said Israel should put all its nuclear facilities under IAEA "full-scope safeguards." He also asked Israel to join the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, and "renounce possession of nuclear weapons. He said Israel remains the only country in the region that has not joined NPT.
Salehi reiterated a NAM principle that disputes over nuclear non-proliferation should be resolved through political and diplomatic means.
IAEA director general, Yukiya Amano, told the meeting on countering nuclear terrorism that efforts by governments and international organizations have failed to diminish the threat of nuclear terrorism.
"Although much progress has been done in recent years to counter the threat, more needs to be done," Amano said.
Amano said the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Materials, agreed in 2005, has not entered into force because not enough governments have ratified it. The convention sets out measures to protect nuclear materials for civilian uses and prevent their thefts by terrorists.
He warned of a major risk that terrorists can detonate a so-called dirty bomb, which can use conventional explosives to spread nuclear or radioactive materials in populated areas.