Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Iran Must be Stopped, Says Olmert

Iran's president is obsessed with hatred of the Jews and must be stopped from acquiring nuclear weapons, acting Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said. He also took aim at Hamas, warning Israel would reassess all its relations with the Palestinian Authority once the Islamic militants take power. READ MORE

Olmert addressed US Jewish leaders in Jerusalem on Tuesday after Iran announced it has resumed small-scale enrichment of uranium, a step that Western powers fear could bring Iran to the threshold of developing nuclear bombs.

For years, Israeli officials have identified Iran as the country's biggest threat. That fear has heightened since the election of Iran's radical president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who has called for Israel's destruction and questioned whether the Holocaust occurred.

A major Iranian newspaper has begun accepting submissions for a contest for cartoons about the Holocaust. The contest was devised by Hamshahri, one of Iran's top five newspapers, in response to publication in the West of caricatures of the Islam's Prophet Muhammad.

Olmert said he was extremely concerned by "an Iranian leader who seems to be obsessed with anti-Semitic hatred toward the Jewish people and the state of Israel."

Ahmadinejad is "using the worst anti-Semitic expressions that he could find in the dictionary," he said, adding that his concerns have been compounded by Iran's nuclear programme, suspected of aiming toward nuclear weapons capability.

"This has to stop," Olmert said.

Olmert called for "concrete joint action by the international community" to halt Iran's nuclear programme. Earlier this month, the UN nuclear watchdog referred Iran to the UN Security Council, which has the power to impose political and economic sanctions.

Yuval Steinitz, chairman of the powerful parliamentary Defence and Foreign Affairs Committee, said it is believed that Iran could acquire a nuclear bomb in two or three years.