Friday, October 28, 2005

West slams Iran


27/10/2005 19:14 - (SA)

Tehran - Iran was hit by a barrage of Western condemnation on Thursday after its hardline president called for Israel to be "wiped off the map", but the clerical regime struck back with yet more verbal attacks against the Jewish state.

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's speech, delivered on Wednesday at a conference entitled "The World without Zionism", came just hours before a suicide bombing in Israel and provoked fresh fears that Iran has a covert nuclear weapons programme.

The European Union said the comments - the first time in years that such a high-ranking Iranian official has openly called for Israel's annihilation - were "despicable and unacceptable" and "inconsistent with any claim to be a mature and responsible member of the international community".

Iran's ambassadors to Britain, France, Germany, Spain, Belgium and the Netherlands were also summoned by those countries' respective foreign ministries to hear official protests - a sign of deteriorating relations between Tehran and the 25-member bloc.

Remarks are 'sickening'

A Foreign Office spokesperson in London said Ahmadinejad's "sickening" remarks will "heighten concerns about Iran's nuclear ambitions".

Russia, which has backed Iran's claim to generate nuclear power despite the risk it would acquire bomb-making technology, acknowledged that Ahmadinejad's speech gave "an additional argument" to nations calling for Iran to be referred to the United Nations Security Council.

And Israel, which alleges Iran is seeking nuclear weapons and long-range missiles, said the Islamic republic should be expelled from the United Nations.

But Iran's regime was unrepentant, confirming its dramatic shift to the right that came with Ahmadinejad's shock election win in June.

The spokesperson of Iran's Revolutionary Guards, Seyed Massoud Jazihiri, backed up Ahmadinejad by describing Israel as a "cancerous tumour".

He said the West "was right to be afraid, because two decades ago when the Imam (Khomeini) called for Israel to be wiped off the map they thought it was a slogan, but as time passes we are seeing signs of unity in the Islamic world."

"We have no doubts that at the end of the road, the victory of Muslims and the defeat of Israel is inevitable," Jazihiri told the Fars news agency.

Iran's foreign ministry also ordered its diplomats to lodge official protests over Europe's attitude toward "Zionist crimes".

"In protest at the exacerbation of the Zionist regime's crimes and its suppression of the Palestinian nation, Iran's embassies in Western countries were instructed to convey Iran's strong protest to European governments for their indifference towards the issue," the foreign ministry said.

The Iranian embassy in Paris nevertheless also asserted that Iran had "no hostility" towards Jews.


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