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Iran: Ahmadinejad Says Israel Is 'Dying'

U.S. President George W. Bush (left) holds talks with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert (AFP) As Israel marks the 60th anniversary of its creation, Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad says the Jewish state is "dying" and that the celebrations are a failed attempt to prevent its "annihilation."

Ahmadinejad's comments came on May 14 as several world leaders -- including U.S. President George W. Bush -- gathered in Israel to take part in the anniversary celebrations.

Speaking in northern Iran, Ahmadinejad said, "The Zionist regime is dying. The criminals assume that by holding celebrations they can save the sinister Zionist regime from death and annihilation." Iran does not recogize Israel, and Ahmadinejad was internationally condemned in 2005 when he said in a speech that Israel should be "erased from the world map."

Ahmadinejad has also downplayed the Holocaust, suggesting it is a "myth." He even called for Israel to be moved to another part of the world, saying, "Well, if you have committed a crime [against the Jewish people, such as the Nazis did during World War II], then give them a part of your own territory -- a part of the U.S. or Europe or Canada or Alaska -- so they could create their state there."

Such statements have been strongly condemned by the West. The Australian government said on May 14 that it is contemplating a case at the International Court of Justice against Ahmadinejad for inciting violence against Israel.

Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said the Iranian leader's "extraordinary statements -- which are anti-Semitic and express a determination to eliminate the modern state of Israel from the map -- are appalling by any standard of current international relations."

The Hague-based UN court settles disputes between states in accordance with international law.

Rudd said his government is taking legal advice on the launching of a criminal case. He told Australian television, "It's not just a hyperbole from the bully pulpit of Tehran. It's the roll-on effect across the Islamic world, particularly those who listen to Iran for their guidance."

Israel considers Iran a threat because of Tehran's controversial nuclear program and its arsenal of long-range missiles, including the Shahab-3, which is capable of striking the Jewish state. Shahab-3 missiles, which can be fitted with nuclear warheads, have a range of 2,000 kilometers. Israel is about 1,000 kilometers from Iran.

Iran denies the accusation that it is trying to build nuclear weapons and says its nuclear activities are only for peaceful purposes. Israel is also widely believed to have a stockpile of nuclear weapons but has neither acknowledged nor denied having a nuclear-weapons program.

RFE/RL Iran Report

RFE/RL Iran Report

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