BERLIN - Speaking at a joint press conference with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Berlin, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said in response to a question about the analogy being made between Iran and Nazism, "There is no comparison between the Holocaust and the Iranian nuclear program. Things have changed since then.
"The Germans did unthinkable things to the Jewish people and therefore, I believe the result is the German need to defend Israel and maintain its security. This is why we feel so responsible now in the Iranian matter as well. We will stand shoulder-to-shoulder with Israel against the Iranian threat. Nonetheless, I object to the analogy between the two things."
She also said that Iran could face new sanctions in the energy and financial sectors if it does not show a willingness to negotiate on its nuclear program.
"If there is no positive answer by September we will have to consider further measures," she said, mentioning possible sanctions in the energy and financial market sectors.
US President Barack Obama has given Iran until September to take up a six powers' offer of talks on trade benefits if it shelves nuclear enrichment or face harsher penalties.
Netanyahu also addressed the Iranian threat "on Israel, on the region and on the entire world", saying, "There isn't much time, and the most important thing is to impose harsh sanctions on Iran. The Security Council must do this, but the international community should also do it, even without a Security Council resolution."
Netanyahu and Merkel in Berlin (Photo: AFP)
Merkel then added, "We have been patient in recent years, but I think this problem must be solved and it can't be one country on its own. Germany alone will not be effective if Russia and China do not join. There is a G8 resolution to take actions against the Iranians if they do not respond to the demands.
I also want these problems solved yesterday, but unfortunately there is no quick solution. The important thing is that we are partners in the international community, that believe Iran cannot be allowed to have nuclear weapons."
'Iran threat to entire world'
When asked by a German reporter whether it was time Israel be disarmed its nuclear weapons, Netanyahu said, "We always say we will not be the first to bring nuclear weapons into the Middle East. Here, this is not just our problem. It is Iran that wishes to wipe my country off the map. Iran supports Hezbollah in the north and Hamas in Gaza.
"Iran is producing weapons and building nuclear weapons and this fact should concern not only my country, but the rest of the countries of the world. This is a threat on the entire world."
Netanyahu also denied reports saying he is willing to agree to a freeze of construction in settlements.
The prime minister said, "There are no agreements and no decisions, there are only baseless rumors, attempts are being made to bridge the gaps, but the reports of decisions being made are simply unfounded."
Merkel called for a stop to construction in settlements, but refused to give details on her conversation with Netanyahu in this regard, stating that it is not that details that matter, but the principal.
"We must make progress in the peace process ... and a stopping of the settlement (building) is very important," Merkel said. "Time is of the essence," she added.
Reuters contributed to this report