Olmert: Israel has power to defend itself against Iran
In meeting with students at Druze town, prime minister says Security Council's decision to impose third round of sanctions on Tehran proves world is determined to stop Islamic republic's nuclear program. 'The Iranian threat is not just on Israel,' he adds
Responding to the Security Council's decision Monday to impose a new round of sanctions on Tehran, the prime minister said, "Israel can defend itself against any threat, but the Iranian threat is not just on Israel, and that is why Europe and the United States, and eventually Russia and China as well, agreed to the sanctions."
Olmert spoke in response to a question presented by a student during a visit to the Druze town of Julis. The prime minister spent the day touring Druze communities in northern Israel.
"The UN's decision from yesterday to impose a third round of sanctions on Iran proves that the world will not accept Iran as a nuclear state," Olmert said, adding that only a wide-scale international effort would be enough to stop the Iranian nuclearization.
"Israel should not be alone in heading the countries working to prevent Iran from nuclearizing. Israel is one of the countries threatened by Iran, and it has the power to defend itself against any threat," the prime minister noted.
Israel has always said it favored a diplomatic solution to the Iranian nuclear affair, and did not see itself taking the lead in the campaign against Tehran's efforts to achieve nuclear capabilities.
On Tuesday, Olmert said the international community had to take additional steps to stop Iran's nuclear program, which Tehran insists is peaceful. He did not say what he thought those steps should be.
Israel considers Iran a serious threat because of its nuclear program and its arsenal of long-range missiles, which can be fitted with nuclear warheads and are capable of striking the Jewish state.
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has repeatedly called for Israel to be "wiped off the map," and there is evidence Iran bankrolls extremist anti-Israel groups like Hizbullah in Lebanon and Hamas in the Palestinian areas.
The Associated Press contributed to this report