U.N. warns against force in Iran nuclear standoff

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called on Thursday for a diplomatic solution to the nuclear standoff with Tehran in an apparent reaction to media speculation that Israel might attack Iran’s atomic facilities.

“He (Ban) reiterates his call for Iran’s compliance with all relevant resolutions of the Security Council and the board of governors of the International Atomic Energy Agency,” U.N. spokesman Martin Nesirky told reporters.

“The secretary-general reiterates his belief that a negotiated rather than a military solution is the only way to resolve this issue,” he said.

He added that Ban’s position is that “the onus is on Iran to prove the peaceful nature of its nuclear program.”

Tension over Iran’s nuclear program has increased since earlier this week when the IAEA reported that Tehran appeared to have worked on designing a bomb and may still be conducting secret research to that end.

Media speculation about possible U.S. or Israeli military action has also intensified in recent weeks, denounced by Iran as “unbalanced” and “politically motivated.”

Since 2006, the U.N. Security Council has adopted six resolutions demanding that Iran halt its nuclear enrichment program, four of them imposing sanctions on the Islamic Republic.

The United States, European Union and their allies suspect that Tehran’s enrichment work is the core of a program to develop a nuclear arms capability. Iran, which refuses to halt its program, denies seeking weapons and says its nuclear ambitions are limited to peaceful electricity generation.

(Reporting by Louis Charbonneau; Editing by Doina Chiacu