UN chief declares 'the Middle East is on the brink' after Iran's missile attack on Israel and warns those in the region face 'real danger of a devastating, full-scale conflict'

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The United Nations chief Antonio Guterres has declared that the Middle East is ‘on the brink’ and that those living in the region are facing ‘a real danger of a devastating full-scale conflict’.

Secretary-General Antonio Guterres told the emergency meeting, which was called after Iran’s attack: ‘Regional – and indeed global – peace and security are being undermined by the hour. Neither the region nor the world can afford more war.’

Guterres said that acts of reprisal involving the use of force are barred under international law after Iran’s attack on Israel, while the US warned the Security Council it would work to hold Tehran accountable at the UN.

Iran’s ambassador insisted that the attack was ‘in response to the Israeli regime’s military aggression’, highlighting the April 1 attack on an Iranian embassy building in Damascus which killed seven IRGC officers.

Amir Saeid Iravani said Iran’s armed forces launched last night’s attacks in ‘self defence’ and that they were ‘necessary and proportionate, it was precise and only targeted military objectives.’

Israel’s ambassador to the UN, Gilad Erdan, requested on Saturday that the council hold the meeting. He held up a video of missiles raining down over the Al Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem as he highlighted the scale of the attack during his speech.

Secretary-General of the United Nations Antonio Guterres (L) delivers opening remarks during a UN Security Council meeting on the situation in the Middle East

Secretary-General of the United Nations Antonio Guterres (L) delivers opening remarks during a UN Security Council meeting on the situation in the Middle East

Iran's Ambassador to the United Nations Amir Saeid Iravani attends a meeting on the situation in the Middle East

Iran’s Ambassador to the United Nations Amir Saeid Iravani attends a meeting on the situation in the Middle East

Israeli Ambassador to the UN Gilad Erdan shows a video during a United Nations Security Council meeting on the situation in the Middle East

Israeli Ambassador to the UN Gilad Erdan shows a video during a United Nations Security Council meeting on the situation in the Middle East

‘This attack crossed every red line and Israel reserves the right to retaliate,’ Erdan said. ‘We are not a frog in boiling water, we are a nation of lions. 

‘Following such a massive and direct attack on Israel, the entire world, let alone Israel, cannot settle for inaction. We will defend our future.’

He called for more sanctions against Iran and for recognition of it as a terrorist state, saying: ‘For the world’s sake, Iran must be stopped today’.

He highlighted the success of Israel’s Iron Dome and allied efforts to stop the 350 missiles he said were launched by Iran at Israel, with the joint response helping to down ’99 per cent’.

‘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 ahead of the meeting.

Secretary-General Antonio Guterres reminded the council tonight that acts of reprisal involving the use of force are barred under international law, adding that now is the ‘the time to defuse and de-escalate’ as he warned against further escalation.

Drones or missiles vying for targets at undisclosed locations in northern Israel on April 14

Drones or missiles vying for targets at undisclosed locations in northern Israel on April 14

He 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. 

Meanwhile the US warned the Security Council it would work to hold Tehran accountable at the UN.

Deputy US Ambassador to the UN 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 US would take.

A G7 meeting took place this afternoon as leaders condemned Iran's air attack on Israel 'in the strongest terms'

A G7 meeting took place this afternoon as leaders condemned Iran’s air attack on Israel ‘in the strongest terms’

‘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 a building next to 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.