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Iran seizes on Olmert's atomic "confession" - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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TEHRAN, (Reuters) – Iran on Wednesday called for U.N. Security Council action against Israel, seizing on remarks by Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert widely interpreted as an admission that the Jewish state has nuclear weapons. “This confession reveals a real threat to security and stability in the Middle East and shows the evil aims and plots of this regime,” said Foreign Ministry spokesman Mohammad Ali Hosseini.

Quoted by the official IRNA news agency, Hosseini called for “effective and rapid measures in the Security Council and the Organisation of Islamic Conference and other regional organisations to combat these explicit threats.”

In a German television interview broadcast on Monday, Olmert said: “Iran, openly, explicitly and publicly threatens to wipe Israel off the map. Can you say that this is the same level, when they are aspiring to have nuclear weapons, as America, France, Israel, Russia?”

Olmert aides said the remarks did not constitute an admission that Israel had atomic weapons.

Leading opposition lawmakers in Israel have accused Olmert of undermining Israel’s campaign to curb the atomic ambitions of Iran with his remarks.

Independent analysts believe Israel has built up to 200 nuclear warheads since the late 1960s. Israel refuses to discuss the matter, under an “ambiguity” policy aimed both at deterring regional foes and avoiding an arms race.

The reticence is a major grievance for Iran, which sees a double standard in Western calls for Tehran to accept checks on a nuclear programme that it says is for civilian use. “Iran recommends that the Security Council place emphasis on combating the open and real threats of the nuclear weapons capabilities, instead of putting unreal issues on its agenda,” Hosseini said.

Iran and Israel have traded increasingly confrontational rhetoric and accusations in recent months.

In an interview with Germany’s Spiegel magazine last week Olmert called for dramatic measures against Iran and declined to rule out a military attack against the Islamic Republic.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said on Tuesday Israel would soon be consigned to history, as happened to the Soviet Union.

Asharq Al-Awsat

Asharq Al-Awsat

Asharq Al-Awsat is the world’s premier pan-Arab daily newspaper, printed simultaneously each day on four continents in 14 cities. Launched in London in 1978, Asharq Al-Awsat has established itself as the decisive publication on pan-Arab and international affairs, offering its readers in-depth analysis and exclusive editorials, as well as the most comprehensive coverage of the entire Arab world.

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