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UN chief calls for maximum restraint after Iran's attack on Israel

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UN chief calls for maximum restraint after Iran's attack on Israel
April 14, 2024
Daphne Psaledakis and Patricia Zengerle - Reuters

By Daphne Psaledakis and Patricia Zengerle

(Reuters) - United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Sunday issued a reminder that acts of reprisal involving the use of force are barred under international law after Iran's attack on Israel, while the U.S. warned the Security Council it would work to hold Tehran accountable at the U.N.

Guterres, speaking to a meeting of the U.N. Security Council, told member states that the U.N. charter bars the use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state as he condemned Iran's attack on Israel and warned against further escalation.

Iran launched a swarm of explosive drones and fired missiles on Saturday in its first-ever direct attack on Israeli territory, risking a major escalation.

The attack was in response to a suspected Israeli strike on Iran's embassy compound in Syria on April 1 that killed top Revolutionary Guards commanders and followed months of clashes between Israel and Iran's regional allies, triggered by the war in Gaza.

"The Middle East is on the brink. The people of the region are confronting a real danger of a devastating full-scale conflict. Now is the time to defuse and de-escalate," Guterres told the meeting, which was called after Iran's attack.

Deputy U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Robert Wood called on the 15-member body to unequivocally condemn Iran's attack, as he said the Security Council has an obligation to not let Iran's actions go unanswered.

"In the coming days, and in consultation with other member states, the United States will explore additional measures to hold Iran accountable here at the United Nations," he said, without specifying what action the U.S. would take.

"Let me be clear: if Iran or its proxies take actions against the United States or further action against Israel, Iran will be held responsible," he said, adding that the U.S. took note of Guterres' remarks and that Washington's actions have been defensive.

Tehran, which had vowed retaliation for what it called an Israeli strike on its Damascus consulate on April 1 that killed seven of its officers, said its strike was punishment for "Israeli crimes". Israel has neither confirmed nor denied responsibility for the consulate attack.

Israel's ambassador to the United Nations, Gilad Erdan, requested the council hold the meeting in a letter on Saturday to the council's president.

"The Iranian attack is a serious threat to global peace and security and I expect the Council to use every means to take concrete action against Iran," Erdan wrote in a post on X.

Guterres on Sunday also called for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza after more than six months of fighting, the unconditional release of all hostages and the unimpeded delivery of humanitarian aid to Gaza as it faces famine.

"Regional - and indeed global - peace and security are being undermined by the hour. Neither the region nor the world can afford more war," he said.

(Reporting by Daphne Psaledakis and Patricia Zengerle in Washington)

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