Reuters: Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s threats to destroy Israel should be taken seriously and suggest he could target other countries as well, President Bush told a German newspaper. BERLIN (Reuters) – Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s threats to destroy Israel should be taken seriously and suggest he could target other countries as well, President Bush told a German newspaper.
The United States and Europe believe Iran is pursuing an atomic bomb and have reported the country to the U.N. Security Council, which could impose possible sanctions.
“When he says that he wants to destroy Israel, the world needs to take it seriously,” Bush said in an interview with German weekly Bild am Sonntag.
“This is a serious threat, aimed at an ally of the United States and Germany. What Ahmadinejad also means is that if he is ready to destroy one country, then he would also be ready to destroy others. This is a threat that needs to be dealt with.”
Ahmadinejad has said Israel should be “wiped off the map” and referred to the Holocaust, in which 6 million Jews died at the hands of the Nazis, as a myth.
Because Bild could not immediately furnish English quotes, Bush’s comments were translated from the German. The paper said the White House planned to release an authorized English version of the interview on Monday.
While reiterating that all options for stopping Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons were on the table, Bush said he believed a diplomatic solution was possible if the international community worked hard and remained united.
“Iran represents a challenge. And I want your readers to know that I want and believe that we can solve this diplomatically,” Bush said.
Tehran says its nuclear program is purely for peaceful energy purposes. On Sunday, it said any punitive measures taken by the Security Council risked stoking confrontation and damaging chances for cooperation.
Bush, who held talks with Chancellor Angela Merkel in the White House last week, called the German leader a key partner in the international drive to curb Iran’s nuclear ambitions.
“Absolutely, absolutely,” Bush said, when asked whether he viewed Germany as a “partner in leadership” — a term used by his father, President George Bush, during the Cold War.
“We are seeing this on the Iran question. Chancellor Merkel has been strong so far. It is very important that the Iranians know that Germany is working with others to send Tehran a clear message.”
Bush also said he understood Germany’s decision not to participate in the Iraq war, which severely strained relations between Washington and Merkel’s predecessor Gerhard Schroeder.
“The Germans today simply don’t like war — regardless of where they are on the political spectrum. And I can understand that,” Bush said. “There is a generation of people whose lives were thrown into complete disarray by a horrible war.”