Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert called on Sunday for a stronger international campaign against Iran‘s nuclear programme to “thwart it with greater force.”
“We must increase our measures to prevent Iran from achieving its devious goals,” Olmert said in a speech to Jewish leaders in Jerusalem. “Iran cannot become nuclear. Israel cannot afford it … the free world must not accept it.
Olmert (Gali Tibbon/Pool/Reuters)
“We must unite our forces as part of the international community, led by the United States of America. We must confront Iran’s malevolent diligence and thwart it with greater force.”
Israel and the West fear Iran may be using its nuclear programme to develop a nuclear weapon, which the Jewish state sees as a potential threat to its existence. Iran says its atomic programme is solely for energy purposes.
Israel is widely believed to have the Middle East’s only nuclear arsenal, although it has never confirmed nor denied it.
Israel has backed Western economic sanctions against Iran but has said it is keeping all options on the table in its bid to halt Iran’s nuclear programme.
Israeli leaders have voiced concern about U.S. President-elect Barack Obama’s stated readiness to seek dialogue either alongside or instead of sanctions as a method of persuading Iran to change its policies.
“Iran has not terminated its pursuit of nuclear weapons,” Olmert said.
He also accused the Islamic Republic of continuing to fund Palestinian militants and gunmen in Iraq, Syria and Lebanon.
Olmert called for further sanctions against Iran, saying: “It must become more costly to Iran to pursue nuclear weapons than to give it up.”
Olmert resigned as prime minister in September in the heat of a corruption investigation, but is staying on as caretaker prime minister until a new Israeli government can be formed after a February 10 election.
(Writing by Allyn Fisher-Ilan; Editing by Janet Lawrence of Reuters)