Iran Nuclear NewsMerkel says Iran threatens democratic world

Merkel says Iran threatens democratic world


Reuters: German Chancellor Angela Merkel used her first visit to Israel on Sunday to deliver a strong criticism of Iran, saying it threatens not only the Jewish state but the entire democratic world. By Louis Charbonneau

JERUSALEM (Reuters) – German Chancellor Angela Merkel used her first visit to Israel on Sunday to deliver a strong criticism of Iran, saying it threatens not only the Jewish state but the entire democratic world.

Merkel spoke after meeting interim Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, who expressed Israel’s concern at Iran’s nuclear programme. Israel, the United States and the European Union accuse Iran of trying to build an atom bomb. Tehran denies this.

“Iran is not just a threat to Israel, but also to the democratic countries of this world,” Merkel said.

She said Germany and Israel were in total agreement on the subject of Tehran’s plans to produce nuclear fuel by enriching uranium, a process of purifying uranium for use in atomic power plants or weapons.

“I don’t see the slightest difference in the views of Germany and Israel,” Merkel said. “It is clear that Iran should not get the ability to enrich uranium.”

Israel sees Iran’s nuclear programme as a threat to its existence and has even hinted that it could use military force to prevent Tehran from getting a bomb.

Merkel also condemned Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad for his anti-Israeli remarks. Ahmadinejad has said the Jewish state should be “wiped off the map” and doubted that six million Jews had been killed by the Nazis during World War Two.

“It’s unacceptable that Iran’s president rejects and falsifies history,” she said.

Germany, France and Britain have been trying for more than two years to persuade Tehran to give up enrichment in exchange for political and economic incentives but Iran has refused.

The EU3 have now joined Washington in calling for the U.N. Security Council, which has the power to impose sanctions, to take up the matter. On Monday, senior EU3 officials meet with U.S., Russian and Chinese officials in London to discuss Iran.


On the same day, Iran will meet diplomats from Britain, France and Germany in Brussels, a Tehran foreign ministry spokesman said.

Iran insisted on Sunday the only solution to its nuclear dispute with the West was negotiations rather than referral of its atomic dossier to the United Nations Security Council.

“The only way to reach an understanding and to get out of the current situation is talks,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi told a weekly news conference in Tehran.

Speaking to reporters en route to London, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Monday’s meeting in London would look at many issues, including referral of Iran to the Council as well as a Russian compromise proposal which involves enriching uranium in Russia on behalf of Iran.

Rice said the Russian proposal had been on the table for some time and it was interesting the Iranians were becoming more interested in it the closer a possible vote came on sending Tehran to the Security Council.

“I think that says something about how really interested the Iranians are in the Russian proposal,” she said.

Olmert thanked Merkel for supporting Israel on the question of Iran’s nuclear programme, saying: “It is a topic that causes great concern here in Israel.”

Olmert, who has been acting Israeli prime minister since Ariel Sharon suffered a massive stroke on Jan. 4, also thanked her for shunning the Islamist militant group Hamas, which won this week’s election in the Palestinian territories.

Although she will not meet Hamas, Merkel will meet Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in the West Bank city of Ramallah on Monday. This will make her the first EU leader to visit the Palestinian territories since the election.

Hamas’s charter calls for the destruction of the Jewish state and the group has carried out nearly 60 suicide bombings in Israel since the start of a Palestinian uprising in 2000.

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