Iran General NewsIsrael denies Olmert comments on Iran missile raid

Israel denies Olmert comments on Iran missile raid

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Reuters: Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s office denied on Saturday he had told a German magazine Iran’s disputed nuclear program could be severely hit by firing 1,000 cruise missiles in a 10-day attack. JERUSALEM (Reuters) – Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s office denied on Saturday he had told a German magazine Iran’s disputed nuclear program could be severely hit by firing 1,000 cruise missiles in a 10-day attack.

Weekly news magazine Focus said its reporter, Amir Taheri, asked Olmert in an interview whether military action would be an option if Iran continued to defy the United Nations. It quoted Olmert as responding: “Nobody is ruling it out.”

“It is impossible perhaps to destroy the entire nuclear program but it would be possible to damage it in such a way that it would be set back years,” Focus quoted Olmert as saying. “It would take 10 days and would involve the firing of 1,000 Tomahawk cruise missiles,” it quoted him as saying.

Olmert’s spokeswoman, Miri Eisin, said the prime minister had spoken to the author of the Focus article, but she said Olmert did not make the comments that were attributed to him.

Eisin said the meeting was not an interview and was conducted for background purposes, on the understanding it would not be used.

“The prime minister did not say these things,” Eisin said.

Ulrich Schmidla, a foreign affairs editor at Focus magazine, said they stood by the interview. Taheri, a freelance reporter, was a regular contributor to Focus, he added.

Iran says it is developing nuclear technology for power generation, but the West fears it is trying to build a bomb and two sets of U.N. sanctions have been imposed on Tehran.

Alaeddin Broujerdi, head of Iran’s parliament national security and foreign policy commission, dismissed Olmert’s reported comments.

“Naturally this bragging by Olmert is not something that can actually take place in practice,” Broujerdi was quoted as saying by the ISNA news agency. If America and Israel ever made such a mistake, they know better than anyone else what the consequences would be.”

European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana urged Washington on Friday to speak directly to Iran over its nuclear program and said he was sure Tehran was ready for such talks.

Focus quoted Olmert as saying UN sanctions should be given a chance to work before military action was considered. “We must give the (U.N.) process time to take effect,” it quoted him as saying. “We have no intention of attacking Iran at the moment.”

Olmert was quoted as saying he doubted whether Iran’s nuclear program was as far advanced as Tehran said. “I don’t think that Iran is about to cross the nuclear technology threshold as its leaders claim,” he was quoted as saying. “We still have time to stop them.”

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has proclaimed Iran’s ability to enrich on an “industrial scale”, but U.N. inspectors say it remains at test level.

Iran would face further sanctions if it has not stopped enrichment by a new Security Council deadline of May 24.

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