Israel urged the world to "open its eyes" to the Iranian regime and its nuclear programme Wednesday after its outspoken president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad described the Holocaust as a "myth".
Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's spokesman pledged that Israel had the means to defend itself and would not allow for a second genocide of Jews.
"Thank God, Israel has the means at its disposal to prevent any attempt to bring another Holocaust to Israel," Sharon's spokesman Raanan Gissin told AFP.
"We hope that these extremist declarations will make the world wake up to the nature of this regime -- especially the fact that Iran's nuclear programme and its support of international terrorism, represents not only a danger for Israel but for the entire Western civilisation."
The comments came after Ahmadinejad said in a speech that "they have invented a myth that Jews were massacred" and said the Jewish state should be moved as far away as Alaska.
Ahmadinejad also caused uproar in Israel and the international community in October when he called for the Jewish state to be "wiped off the map".
"We hope these extremist comments by the Iranian president will make the international community open its eyes and abandon any illusions about this regime," foreign ministry spokesman Mark Regev told AFP.
"Israel is calling once more for Iran's nuclear programme to be submitted by the International Atomic Energy Agency to the UN Security Council" and for the imposition of sanctions, added Regev.
Ahmadinejad's comments reflected a "perverse vision of the world held by this regime and underline the danger should such an extremist regime have a nuclear capacity in the future."
Israel has consistently called for international action to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons, with its chief of staff Dan Halutz claiming on Tuesday that Tehran would have all the necessary knowledge to build a nuclear warhead within three months.
Israel is widely believed to possess around 200 nuclear warheads, making it the only nuclear power in the Middle East, although it has never admitted having atomic weapons.
Even before Ahmadinejad's latest comments, there have been growing calls in Israel for military action to counter Israel's nuclear programme.
"Israel will have no choice but to take military action in order to prevent this nightmare from coming true -- a radical Islamic country armed with nuclear weapons," Sever Plotzker, a columnist for the best-selling Yediot Aharonot daily, wrote earlier this week.
"Bombing Iran's nuclear facilities from the air is both impractical and undesirable, but there are countless other options available, ways that would leave a trail and ways that wouldn't; for instance, assassinate the main links in the supply and production chains."
Source: Agence France-Presse
By Claude Salhani
Consider his recent antics: First, Ahmadinejad declared to a group of students in Tehran in October that "Israel should be wiped off the map." Israel certainly takes him seriously.
If that first statement were not bad enough, and even before the dust from that storm he created had time to settle, the Iranian president suggested Israel be moved to Europe -- somewhere between Germany and Austria. Now the European Union is taking him seriously.
Then, while in Mecca last week, attending a meeting of heads of state of the Organization of Islamic Conference, Ahmadinejad takes advantage of the presence of the international media at an extraordinary summit called by Saudi King Abdullah, and does it again -- this time by saying he doubted the Holocaust ever took place. Now he has the Saudis furious.
So what exactly is the Iranian president trying to accomplish by stirring world public opinion against him? And this at a time when he should be trying to appease the world, showing them that Iran, even with nuclear weapons, can be a responsible nation.
"What Ahmadinejad is doing is making very calculated statements with a clear purpose in mind," said Alireza Jafarzadeh, president of Strategic Policy Consulting, and a former Washington spokesman for Iran's parliament in exile, the National Council of Resistance of Iran.
Jafarzadeh is the one who revealed to the world in August 2002 that the Iranians were building nuclear facilities in Natanz and Araj.
"Ahmadinejad is trying to rally the Revolutionary Guards and the most radical elements in the regime to be fully behind him and boost their morale," Jafarzadeh told United Press International.
At the same time, Ahmadinejad is also trying to reach out to the Muslim population in the Arab world, he believes. Hence the visit last week to Tehran by Hamas' leader Khalid Mashal.
"Ahmadinejad was placed at the head of the Islamic republic by Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei with the aim to head toward a confrontation with the United States," said Jafarzadeh.
"I believe he was tasked with a mission when he was selected by Khamenei," claims Jafarzadeh. His mission is two pronged.
-- To get Iran its first nuclear weapon as quickly as possible and at whatever cost.
-- Establishing an Islamic republic in Iraq, or at least gaining a very significant influence over Iraqi affairs.
If Khamenei were not planning for a confrontation, he would not have chosen Ahmadinejad as president, he would have backed a less conservative candidate such Hashemi Rafsanjani.
"Ahmadinejad's mission is not to negotiate," says Jafarzadeh, "but to confront. That is what he is doing on the nuclear side, and that is what he is doing in the entire region."
While Jafarzadeh may see Ahmadinejad as someone with a clear-cut mission, some analysts question whether Ahmadinejad may be entirely in control of his emotions. Consider this following conversation, caught on videotape, Ahmadinejad had with a high-ranking ayatollah after his return from New York where he addressed the U.N. General Assembly in September:
"The last day when I was speaking before the (U.N. General) Assembly, one of our group told me when I started to say, 'In the name of God the Almighty, the Merciful,' he saw a light around me, and I was placed inside this aura and I felt it myself. I felt the atmosphere suddenly change, and for those 27 or 28 minutes the leaders of the world did not blink. When is say they did not bat an eyelid, I am not exaggerating because I was looking at them and they were wrapped," said Ahmadinejad.
Indeed, Ahmadinejad may feel that at times he projects an aura and captivates his audience. And because of his close relationship with the ayatollahs, he may believe he is closer to the divine than most. Still, that did not prevent him from not wanting to take a chance that his prayers may go unanswered, preferring to rely on dirty tricks to secure the elections in Iraq for his candidates.
Just a day before Iraq's elections, border policemen seized a tanker that was trying to cross from Iran filled with thousands of forged ballots, reported The New York Times on Wednesday.
The paper, quoting officials, said the tanker was seized in the evening by agents with the U.S.-trained border protection force at the Iraqi town of Badra, after crossing at Munthirya on the Iraqi border.
Iraqi police officials say the border police found several thousand partly completed ballots inside. When interrogated by the police, the driver admitted at least three more similar trucks also filled with fake ballots had crossed different border posts.
So should such a man be taken seriously? The Iraqis certainly are now.
Source: United Press International
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Iran At Nuclear Point Of No-Return By March Says Israel
Jerusalem (AFP) Dec 13, 2005
Iran will have acquired all the necessary technological know-how to build a nuclear bomb by March, Israeli chief of staff Dan Halutz said on Tuesday.
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