Paris, France (AFP) Oct 26, 2005
Widespread condemnation greeted remarks Wednesday by Iran's president that Israel should be wiped of the map, with Jerusalem seeing Teheran as a "clear and present danger" and Washington renewing concern about the Islamic Republic's nuclear aims.
"We believe that Iran is trying to buy time .. so it can develop a nuclear bomb," said Israeli Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom in Jerusalem.
"Iran is a clear and present danger," he said at a joint press conference in Jerusalem with visiting Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.
In Washington, the White House said the words of hardline Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad also underlined US concerns about Tehran's nuclear ambitions.
"It just reconfirms what we have been saying about the regime in Iran. It underscores the concerns we have about Iran's nuclear operations," spokesman Scott McClellan told reporters.
France will summon Iran's ambassador to Paris to question him over Ahmadinejad's call," Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy said.
"I learned of the comments... according to which the president of Iran says he wants Israel to disappear and said the conflict in the Middle East would perpetuate a age-old fight between Jews and Muslims," Douste-Blazy said in a written statement.
Ahmadinejad made the comments at a conference in Tehran entitled "The World Without Zionism".
"As the Imam said, Israel must be wiped off the map," he said in a reference to Iran's late revolutionary leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.
His comments were the first time in years that such a high-ranking Iranian official had called for Israel's eradication, even though such slogans are still regularly used at regime rallies.
In Berlin, the German government said the comments were "completely unacceptable".
"If these comments were in fact made, they are completely unacceptable and should be condemned in the strongest terms," said foreign ministry spokesman Walter Lindner.
Together with Britain and France, Germany is a member of the so-called EU3 group that is negotiating with Tehran over its controversial nuclear programme.
In his speech Ahmadinejad said Israel's establishment was "a move by the world oppressor against the Islamic world".
In Jerusalem, Shalom said Tehran had consistently shown its desire to wipe out Israel.
"This is not the first time that this regime has wished for the destruction of the state of Israel," he said in remarks to reporters after the press conference.
"This kind of regime is very, very extreme and it would be a nightmare for all the international community if they had a nuclear bomb.
"We believe that the time has come to move the Iranian file to theSecurity Council and the sooner the better."
But the Russian foreign minister differed, saying Moscow had no substantial evidence that "we have a clear and present danger" from Iran's nuclear programme.
"We rely on the professional advice of the agency (International Atomic Energy Agency). It is too serious (an issue) to be guided by politics," Lavrov said.
The IAEA board of governors passed a resolution in September finding Iran to be in non-compliance with the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).
That paved the way for the matter to be referred to the UN Security Council if Iran fails to suspend all nuclear fuel work or to cooperate fully with the IAEA investigation.
Russia, which has a lucrative contract to build Iran's first nuclear power reactor, has a veto on the Security Council.
Iran says that its nuclear programme is a peaceful effort to generate electricity. Washington and Israel claim the programme is weapons-related.
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US Senate Scraps Project To Build Nuclear 'Bunker Buster' Bomb
Washington DC (AFP) Oct 26, 2005
A US Senate panel decided Wednesday to scrap funding for a program to develop "bunker buster" bombs - small-scale, tactical nuclear weapons once deemed an indispensable addition to the US anti-terrorism arsenal.
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