Having previously been reluctant to place Israel at the forefront of the international struggle against Iranian extremism, the Foreign Ministry is now reaching out to potential partners worldwide to press for tougher sanctions to thwart Iran's nuclear program and to explore avenues for indicting President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad for inciting genocide. The need to counter Iran's nuclear ambitions and Ahmadinejad's Holocaust denial and demands for Israel's destruction is now "central" to the ministry's 2007 agenda, a Foreign Ministry source told The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday.
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In the all-too likely event of Iran failing to comply with the demand in UN Security Council Resolution 1737 for the suspension of all uranium enrichment-related and reprocessing activities, the international community would next month have to decide on what new deterrent steps to take, the source said.
"We are pursuing with other governments... the demand for beefed-up sanctions," he went on. "The regime in Teheran must face a choice: Stop your nuclear program or face international condemnation and the threatening of your relations with the international community of nations."
In the last few days, senior Foreign Ministry officials held a meeting with former Canadian justice minister Irwin Cotler who, along with fellow law professor Alan Dershowitz and others, is leading a campaign to have Ahmadinejad indicted for inciting genocide against the Jewish state. Also engaged in this effort are Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs head Dore Gold and Likud leader Binyamin Netanyahu, both former Israeli ambassadors to the United Nations.
Cotler recently told the Post that Ahmadinejad's "genocidal criminality is as clear and compelling as any I've ever seen" and that it constitutes a flagrant breach of the UN's 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide.
One of the non-ministry participants in the meeting told the Post that the ministry was setting up a "task force" to pursue the issue. The Foreign Ministry source said this was inaccurate, but that all aspects of the challenge posed by Iran were being addressed by the ministry's senior management and all its senior policy forums.
The Foreign Ministry source said the ministry was "exploring what legal options are out there" for seeking the prosecution of Ahmadinejad and was "cooperating with friendly governments and NGOs on this issue."
Israel, the non-ministry participant said, would be pushing the matter of indicting Ahmadinejad through diplomatic channels, encouraging other countries to initiate legal action against him via the International Court of Justice and/or the International Criminal Court. Israel would not go directly to the ICC itself, since it is not a signatory to the statute on which the ICC is based, and was concerned about a possible boomerang effect if it sought action via the ICC, which ruled against Israel in the matter of the West Bank security barrier.
In approving Resolution 1737 last month, the Security Council requested a report within 60 days from the International Atomic Energy Agency on whether Iran had established full and sustained suspension of all activities mentioned in the resolution. It set up a new committee, comprised of all council members, to monitor implementation of the sanctions imposed so far.