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Iran Responds To Netanyahu, Vowing To Retaliate If Attacked

Iran has vowed to "retaliate" against any attack after Israel's prime minister called for a "red line" to prevent the Islamic republic from acquiring a nuclear bomb.

Iran's deputy UN ambassador Eshagh al-Habib told the UN General Assembly on September 27 that the Islamic Republic "is strong enough to defend itself and reserves its full right to retaliate with full force against any attack."

Al-Habib added that Israel had made "baseless and absurd allegations” against Iran’s “exclusively peaceful" nuclear program.

In his speech at the UN General Assembly earlier in the day, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu emphasized the need for a "red line" past which Iran could expect to be attacked for pursuing a nuclear weapons program.

"At this late hour, there is only one way to peacefully prevent Iran from getting atomic bombs and that's by placing a clear red line on Iran's nuclear weapons program," the Israeli leader told the General Assembly.

In recent weeks, Israeli leaders have repeatedly warned that Israel would carry out a unilateral military strike if Iran got close to making a nuclear bomb.

Netanyahu said "Red lines don't lead to war; red lines prevent war."

He said that by the end of summer 2013 Iran would have sufficient enriched uranium to be on the "brink" of making a nuclear bomb.

The Israeli prime minister warned that "Nothing could imperil our future more than an Iran armed with nuclear weapons."

After the speech, the U.S. State Department said Secretary of State Hillary Clinton met for 75 minutes with Netanyahu. It said the two reaffirmed that the United States and Israel "share the goal" of stopping Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon.

Meanwhile, EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said the major powers had discussed the need for Iran to take action urgently regarding its nuclear program.

She was speaking to reporters at the UN after the talks with the foreign ministers of the five permanent members of the Security Council - United States, France, Britain, Russia, and China – as well as Germany.

Ashton, who acts as negotiator with Iran for the international powers, said "I will, from that meeting, now be in touch again with Iran to continue this process."

Based on reporting by Reuters, AP, and AFP