Ahmadinejad: Israel will 'disappear'

Peres likens Iranian president's rhetoric to Hitler's; France, Russia resistant to even limited sanctions against Iran.

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October 20, 2006 10:59
4 minute read.
Ahmadinejad: Israel will 'disappear'

Ahmadinejad brilliant . (photo credit: AP [file])

 
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Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's rhetoric is similar to Hitler's, and must be taken seriously, Vice Premier Shimon Peres said Saturday in response to Ahmadinejad's latest anti-Israel outburst. Peres said that an international coalition must be formed to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons. On Friday, at a Teheran rally for Al-Quds Day, held on the last Friday of Ramadan to assert Islamic claims to Jerusalem, Ahmadinejad said Israel no longer had any reason to exist and would soon disappear. "This regime, thanks to God, has lost the reason for its existence," Ahmadinejad told a crowd of thousands. "Efforts to stabilize this fake [Israeli] regime, by the grace of God, have completely failed... You should believe that this regime is disappearing," he said. This was only the latest in the Iranian president's threats against Israel. In the past, he has called for Israel to be "wiped off the map." Ahmadinejad's remarks came after Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, while visiting Moscow, made some of his toughest statements about Iran to date, saying on Wednesday that the Iranians needed to fear that "something will happen to them that they don't want" if they continue their nuclear development program in defiance of world opinion. Israel cannot reconcile itself to a nuclear Iran, Olmert said in Moscow, adding "there comes a time when you have to do damage control." Ahmadinejad branded Israeli leaders "a group of terrorists" and, in advance of the planned circulation next week of a UN draft resolution on Iran's nuclear program, called the UN Security Council and all its decisions "illegitimate" and said the world body was being used as a tool of Iran's enemies - the United States and Britain. Diplomats have said they'll seek limited sanctions against Teheran for its refusal to suspend uranium enrichment - a key process that can produce either fuel for a nuclear reactor or material for a warhead. But French Defense Minister Michele Alliot-Marie said her country would be willing to suspend the drive for sanctions if Iran takes steps toward resolving questions over its nuclear program. France has veto power on the Security Council. Russia, another Security Council member with veto power, also is resistant to sanctions. "We won't be able to support, and will oppose, any attempts to use the Security Council to punish Iran or use Iran's program to promote the ideas of regime change there," Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said in an interview with the Kuwaiti news agency KUNA that was posted on the ministry's Web site on Saturday. Russia is building a nuclear reactor for Iran's Bushehr power plant and is to begin shipping fuel to the plant by March. Olmert, however, said on Thursday on his way back to Israel from Moscow that he felt the Russians were committed to keeping the Iranians from acquiring nuclear weapons, and that differences between Israel and Russia on this issue had been narrowed considerably. Across Iran, millions took to the streets on "Al-Quds Day," Arabic for Jerusalem - a national holiday established by the late Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini in 1981 to assert Muslim claims to Jerusalem. Rallies took place in Cairo, Beirut, Baghdad, Damascus and elsewhere across the Islamic world. Ahmadinejad threatened any country that supports Israel, warning "it is in your own interest to distance yourself from these criminals...This is an ultimatum. Don't complain tomorrow." "Nations will take revenge," he warned. Regarding the threat of sanctions against Iran, he said: "What sort of Security Council is this? The whole world knows that the US and Britain are enemies of the Iranian nation," drawing chants of "Death to America" from the crowd. A spokesman for British Prime Minister Tony Blair said Ahmadinejad's comments came as no surprise. "They're consistent with what Mr. Ahmadinejad has said for some time," the spokesman said. "It's why we take the issue of Iran in general so seriously and the possibility of it acquiring nuclear weaponry so seriously." French Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy also condemned Ahmadinejad's remarks as "unacceptable." Hundreds participated in pro-Palestinian rallies across the Middle East, but Iran's protests were the largest by far. "Down, down with Israel! Generation after generation we will never recognize the state of Israel!" chanted some of the 500 protesters at Cairo's Al-Azhar mosque, among the Sunni Arab world's most prominent institutions. In Lebanon, Hizbullah's No. 2 leader said his group would never stop its resistance against Israel, after last summer's war. "Israeli was defeated and fled from Lebanon. The Israeli society was shaken and its vulnerability was exposed from within," deputy leader Sheikh Naim Kassem told hundreds of attendees at an Al-Quds Day concert in Beirut. In Kfar Kila near the Israeli border, Lebanese soldiers blocked hundreds of protesters carrying yellow Hizbullah flags from marching close to the border fence. Parades wove through at least two of Lebanon's Palestinian refugee camps. Some 60 Islamist demonstrators burned American and Israeli flags in Istanbul as well. On Friday, a banner in Teheran carried a quote from Khomeini: "Al-Quds is part of Islam's body." Meanwhile, Iran is inviting Western representatives for discussions of why Teheran is continuing uranium enrichment in the face of international sanctions threats, the foreign minister said Saturday. "We don't see any logic to suspending uranium enrichment. Enrichment of uranium by Iran is a legal action derived from its membership rights in the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty," Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki told reporters. AP comtributed to this report

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