The State of Israel should be wiped off the map, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Wednesday, underscoring Teheran’s extreme attitude towards the Jewish State.
The Iranian leader's remarks were made during a convention entitled "A World Without Zionists."
“The establishment of the State of Israel was an offensive move. The Islamic nation will not let its historic enemy live in its midst,” he said.
Meanwhile senior American officials associated with President George W. Bush issued stern warnings to Iran in an interview published Wednesday in the London-based Arabic daily al-Sharq al-Awsat saying that “Washington is working diligently to find ways to force Iran to comply with demands by the international community that it abandons its nuclear program.”
According to the report, the U.S. plans to pressure Iran through accusations of involvement in several terror activities around the world that killed American citizens. One of the most likely files to be reopened in Washington is the bombing of the U.S. Marines compound in Beirut in 1983. The U.S. will also hit on the assassination of Iranian opposition figures by Iranian secret agents operating abroad.
Jane’s Defense Weekly magazine reported yesterday that Iran is assisting Syria, Israel’s neighbor and arch enemy, with acquiring the know-how to produce advanced chemical weapons.
According to al-Sharq al-Awsat, a few months ago Syria and Iran signed a mutual assistance agreement by which Syria will provide Iran with advanced military technologies in return for assistance in producing banned weapons.
Under a multi-million dollar project Iran will help Syria set up missile-launching sites, perform test launches of ballistic missiles and acquiring chemical weapons like mustard gas and nerve gas, the magazine reported.
Iranian nukes could encourage others
Meanwhile, Iran’s nuclear program is raising significant concerns among international experts. John Chapman, a British international strategy expert, warned that the development of Iranian nuclear weapons could change the stance of other Middle Eastern countries and also push them to produce such arms.
Speaking at a press conference attended by other experts, Chapman estimated Iran was still far from acquiring nuclear capabilities and said the international community should focus on diplomatic efforts to resolve the problem.
Chapman said great importance should be attached to curbing Teheran’s nuclear ambitions, particularly because other countries in the region, such as Egypt, Turkey, and Saudi Arabia, may also be interested in developing such capabilities, in order not to fall behind in the regional arms race.
U.S., France and Spain react
White House Spokesman Scott McClellan said Washington took Iran's recent statement that "Israel should be wiped off the map" seriously."It underscores the concerns we have about Iran's nuclear intentions," he told reporters.
France's Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy slammed the Iranian threat. He said he has invited the Iranian ambassador in his country for talks following the statements by Iranian President.
"If the reports are true, this is unfathomable. I completely condemn the statements," said Douste-Blazy.
Spain's Foreign Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos also summoned Iran's ambassador to
protest the comments.
In a statement, Moratinos said he rejected the remarks in the strongest possible terms and had called for an urgent meeting with Iran's ambassador in Madrid.