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. US says Iranian president's comments on Israel confirm nuclear worries
WASHINGTON (AFP) Oct 26, 2005
The White House said Wednesday that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's call for Israel to be "wiped off the map" underlined US concerns about Tehran's nuclear ambitions.

"It reconfirms what we've been saying about the regime in Iran. It underscores the concerns we have about Iran's nuclear intentions," spokesman Scott McClellan told reporters.

At a conference in Tehran entitled "The World Without Zionism," the hardline Iranian leader declared that "the establishment of the Zionist regime was a move by the world oppressor against the Islamic world."

"As the imam said, Israel must be wiped off the map," Ahmadinejad said, referring to a slogan which Iran's revolutionary leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini used before his death in 1989.

Ahmadinejad's comments marked the first time in years that such a high-ranking Iranian official has openly called for Israel's eradication, even though such slogans are still regularly used at regime rallies.

Washington has accused Tehran of using a civilian nuclear program as cover for efforts to develop atomic weapons. Iran has denied the allegation.

Britain, France and Germany have held talks with Iran, offering incentives in exchange for a cessation of work on nuclear fuel, but the negotiations broke down in August when Tehran rejected their offer.

Iran also ended a freeze on fuel cycle work by resuming uranium conversion -- a first step in making enriched uranium, which can be fuel for nuclear power reactors but also atom bomb material.

The 35-nation IAEA board passed a resolution in September finding Iran to be in non-compliance with the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) -- paving the way for the matter to be referred to the UN Security Council.

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