Washington (AFP) May 9, 2008
Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert reiterated his warning that the Jewish state will not tolerate a nuclear-armed Iran, but expressed hope the international community would be successful in checking Tehran's nuclear ambitions.
"Yes, Israel will not tolerate a nuclear weapon in the hands of people who say openly, explicitly and publicly that they want to wipe Israel off the map. Why should we?" Olmert asked in an interview with The Washington Post.
The newspaper plans to publish the interview in its Sunday issue, but it posted the text on its website late Friday.
At the same time, the prime minister held out hope that diplomatic efforts by the United States, the European Union and Russia aimed at ensuring the peaceful nature of the Iranian nuclear program would bear fruit.
"I hope they will be successful," Olmert said.
However, he sharply disagreed with findings contained in last year's US National Intelligence Estimate, which argued that Iran's military nuclear program had been halted in 2003.
"Based on the information we have, the military program continues and has never been stopped," Olmert insisted.
"If this program continues, at some point they will be in possession of a nuclear weapon," he warned.
earlier related report
China, France, Russia, Britain and the United States issued a statement reaffirmed which named Iran and expressed strong support for the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons treaty (NPT), which many see as under attack.
British Ambassador John Duncan delivered the statement, saying: "The proliferation of nuclear weapons undermines the security of all nations, imperils prospects for progress on other important NPT goals such as nuclear disarmament, and hurts prospects for expanding international nuclear cooperation.
"The proliferation risks presented by the Iranian nuclear programme continue to be a matter of ongoing serious concern to us."
The United Nations has passed sanctions against Iran demanding that it suspend a uranium enrichment programme which some western nations say hides a bid to build a nuclear bomb.
The talks were held to prepare for an NPT review conference in 2010.
While the group cited both Iran and North Korea specifically, Syria, which has recently been accused of secretly building a nuclear reactor for military purposes, was not included.
Christopher Ford, US special representative on nuclear affairs, said the Syria case is "rapidly evolving".
Therefore, it was "wisest to leave the Syria situation to those people who are deeply engaged on this topic around the world right now," and focus on the conference preparations.
He pointed out that it is the first time that the five nations have issued a statement during preparatory committee talks and that such statements are usually issued only during the review conference.
Last week, a non-profit organisation that aims to reduce nuclear danger pointed out that some 300 more nuclear facilities planned at a time when key treaties that have helped to maintain nuclear peace are running out.
As countries seek fuel alternatives with little environmental impact, some are turning to nuclear energy, which emits no greenhouse gases, said the group.
"The tragedy is that this move to nuclear power.. coincides with the crumbling of much of regulatory structure over nuclear power - not nuclear civil power but weapons power," said Shirley Williams, a member of the board of Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI).
Besides the NPT which comes up for review in 2010, a nuclear arms reduction treaty between the United States and Russia known as Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) is due to expire in 2009.
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Medvedev takes control of Russian nuclear arsenal
Moscow (AFP) May 7, 2008
Newly inaugurated President Dmitry Medvedev on Wednesday formally assumed control of Russia's nuclear arsenal at a Kremlin meeting in which a military officer brought him a black nuclear briefcase.
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