VIDEO - Vice Premier Shimon Peres said on Monday that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who has called for Israel to be wiped off the map, should bear in mind that his own country could also be destroyed.
Peres said Iran was mocking the international community’s attempts to resolve the crisis over its nuclear ambitions and that the credibility of the U.N. Security Council was on the line.
In what Olmert has described as a threat that must be taken seriously, Ahmadinejad has called for Israel to be destroyed.
“They want to wipe out Israel ... Now when it comes to destruction, Iran too can be destroyed (but) I don’t suggest to say an eye for an eye,” Peres told Reuters in an interview.
“Israel would defend itself under any condition but we don’t look upon it as an Iranian-Israeli conflict exclusively ... (Iran) is basically a danger to the world, not just to us.”
Iranian officials have argued Ahmadinejad’s comments on Israel did not constitute a threat and said its armed forces would retaliate for any attack.
Iran has been referred to the U.N. Security Council over fears it is building nuclear arms, a charge it denies. The United States says it would prefer a diplomatic solution to the crisis but warns sanctions and military strikes are options.
Israel, which lies within range of Iranian ballistic missiles, has also refused to rule out military action as a last resort. The Jewish state is believed to have the Middle East’s only atomic arsenal.
Peres said he believed Iran would take a unified international front seriously, but was making a “mockery” of the world because it saw divisions in how countries wanted to react.
The U.N. Security Council had to act, added Peres, a Nobel peace laureate for helping negotiate the 1993 Oslo peace accords with the Palestinians.
'Some bombs will reach hands of terror'
“If the crucial moment will come and they are incapable of taking or making a policy ... Then they endanger their existence as an important world body,” he said.
An Iranian official said on Monday Ahmadinejad had written to U.S. President George W. Bush in an unprecedented attempt to ease tensions.
That followed Iran’s stance on Sunday that it would reject any U.N. Resolution demanding it halt work on atomic fuel.
A draft U.N. Security Council resolution, fashioned by Britain and France and backed by the United States, will ask that Iran suspend its uranium enrichment activities.
Peres warned of a nuclear arms race if Iran produced a nuclear weapon.
“If Iran becomes nuclear many other countries will follow suit ... And whoever will have a conflict will produce a bomb. And finally some bombs will reach the hands of terror,” he said.
Meanwhile, the White House said the letter it received from Iran on Monday does not address international concerns about Tehran's nuclear ambitions.
"It doesn't appear to do anything to address the concerns of the international community," White House spokesman Scott McClellan told reporters traveling with President George W. Bush to Florida.
"There are a number of concerns that the international community has with the regime and the letter doesn't appear to do anything to address those concerns," he said.
Reuters contributed to this report