Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Olmert: Israel will not allow Iran to obtain WMD


Israel's Acting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert warned Iran that the Jewish state would not allow any regime which threatened its existence to obtain weapons of mass destruction.

"Israel cannot allow in any way or at any stage someone who has such hostile intentions against us to obtain weapons that could threaten our existence," Olmert said amid growing international pressure to bring Tehran before the UN Security Council over its nuclear programme.

Israel has come to view the Islamic republic in Tehran as its number one enemy and its fears were heightened when Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in October called for the Jewish state to be "wiped off the map."

Iran is facing the threat of being referred to the UN Security Council for resuming sensitive nuclear fuel research work that Israel and the Western powers fear would give the regime the know-how to build a bomb.

Tehran insists such work is legal given it has signed the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and has branded atomic weapons "un-Islamic".

As a high-level Israeli delegation headed to Moscow for talks over Iran's nuclear programme, Olmert said that he believed a diplomatic solution was possible.

"I believe that there is a way to prevent non-conventional weapons coming into the hands of those who pose a danger to the entire world," Olmert said during a meeting with President Moshe Katsav on Tuesday.

"The Iranian issue is at the top of the agenda for the Israeli government as well as the international community.

"It is being dealt within a continuous manner with contacts between the government and those in Europe and the United States."

Israeli officials have played down the idea of a pre-emptive strike against Iran's nuclear facilities but the outgoing head of military intelligence, Aharon Zeevi, said last month that such a move was "not impossible".

In 1981, Israel bombed Iraq's French-built Osirak nuclear reactor.

Israel itself is believed to be the only nuclear power in the Middle East, although it has never admitted to having a non-conventional arsenal.