Berlin (AFP) Apr 28, 2007
A rain of missiles could degrade Iran's nuclear programme and set it back years, a German weekly quoted Israel's prime minister as saying, sparking a warning from Tehran that such a strike would be a dangerous "error". "It may not be possible to destroy all of the Iranian nuclear programme, but it is possible to damage to in such a way it would be set back several years," Ehud Olmert was quoted as saying in Focus magazine in an interview to be published on Monday.
"It's technically feasible. It would require 10 days and the launch of a thousand Tomahawk missiles," he said, according to excerpts made available on Saturday.
But Olmert's office issued a denial that the prime minister had raised the prospect of cruise missile attacks on Iran's nuclear facilities.
"During an informal half-hour discussion with a stringer, the prime minister did not at any time make the statements which were published," said his spokeswoman, Miri Eisin.
"The prime minister has not changed his position: he believes international sanctions are for the moment the most effective means of preventing Iran from pursuing its military nuclear programme," she said in a statement.
She said the premier's office could decide to sue the journalist.
According to Focus, Olmert said "nobody could exclude" military action against Iran if the Islamic republic continued to defy UN resolutions calling for a halt to sensitive atomic work feared to be a step towards building a nuclear arsenal.
Iranian authorities immediately described Olmert's reported comments as empty "bravado," according to the state-run news agency Isna.
The head of its parliamentary foreign affairs commission, Alladin Borojerdy, said: "If the United States and Israel commit such a mistake, they know better than anybody what the consequences will be for themselves."
He added that the head of the UN nuclear watchdog "Mohamed ElBaradei has stated that Iran's nuclear science cannot be destroyed by missile strikes ... because the science is national."
Many of Iran's nuclear facilities are believed to be deep underground, in reinforced bunkers difficult to destroy with conventional weapons.
Israel has repeatedly said in recent weeks that it wants to see the crisis over Iran's programme resolved through diplomatic means.
But unsubstantiated reports have suggested that the Jewish state and the United States have prepared plans for military strikes.
earlier related report
The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) is the "appropriate forum to debate Washington's propositions on anti-missile defence," Miguel Angel Moratinos said in a press release.
The foreign minister of Spain, which this year holds OSCE's rotating presidency, said he "agreed" with Russian President Vladimir Putin who had suggested on Friday debating the matter in the 56-nation body.
On Thursday, Putin stunned Western capitals when he announced the suspension of Moscow's participation in the Conventional Forces in Europe (CFE) treaty in response to Washington's missile shield proposals.
The 1990 accord, which imposes strict limits on troop deployments across the continent, was signed by the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) and the Warsaw Pact and modified in 1999 after the fall of the Soviet Union and the East bloc.
NATO called on Friday for clarification of Russia's position on the treaty.
"I believe we should discuss this matter under the OSCE framework, but the moratorium on the CFE does not help to achieve this objective," Moratinos said in his statement on Saturday.
OSCE's next annual security conference in June in Vienna, "could be an important forum for these discussions," he said in a statement put out by the Spanish foreign ministry.
Moratinos highlighted the important role OSCE had played in the past in easing diplomatic difficulties between the United States, Russia, and other European nations.
The organisation, whose member states stretch from Europe, through the Caucasus and Central Asia to North America, was created as an East-West forum during the Cold War but has now evolved considerably.
The US has proposed siting 10 interceptor missiles in Poland and a targeting radar in the Czech Republic by 2012. They would be oriented toward ballistic missile threats from the south.
The Pentagon insists the anti-missile system would defend against one-off threats from countries such as Iran and North Korea and could have no effect against Russia's enormous nuclear missile arsenal.
Moscow's opposition to the US deployment is steadily hardening, fuelling East-West tensions already heightened over differences on independence for Kosovo, Putin's record on democracy, and Russian energy policies.
Source: Agence France-Presse
Email This ArticleMutual Destruction Danger In US Anti-Missile Plan Says Putin
Moscow (AFP) April 27, 2007
Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday warned that US plans to deploy an anti-missile system in eastern Europe sharply increase the danger of mutual destruction.
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