Iran President: Israel Is a 'Fake Regime'

Apr 24 9:54 AM US/Eastern

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By NASSER KARIMI
Associated Press Writer

TEHRAN, Iran

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Monday renewed his criticism of Israel, calling it a "fake regime" that cannot continue to exist.

"Some 60 years have passed since the end of World War II. Why should the people of Germany and Palestine pay now for a war in which the current generation was not involved?" Ahmadinejad said at a news conference.

 

"We say that this fake regime (Israel) cannot not logically continue to live," he said.

The remarks by the hard-line leader came a day after interim Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert urged the international community to work against Iran's nuclear program, saying Tehran's ambitions threaten not only Israel but all of Western civilization.

Israel has long identified Iran as its biggest threat, and these concerns have grown amid repeated calls by Ahmadinejad for Israel's destruction.

"From the point of view of seriousness, this tops the state of Israel's list, it is potentially an existential threat," a government statement quoted Olmert telling the weekly Cabinet meeting.

"The Iranian nuclear program should concern many countries, especially those with global responsibility," Olmert said, adding that the international front against Iran should include the United States, Europe and other Western countries.

Also Monday, a top Iranian official said Tehran is prepared to freeze its uranium enrichment for a short time, but this should not be construed as a readiness to abandon it.

"Iran would not have a problem with a short-term suspension (of uranium enrichment). But the difficulty is that the West and the United States would use that as an excuse for extending" the suspension, said Hasan Rowhani, a member of the Supreme National Security Council.

Rowhani's statement was not immediately endorsed by other officials and it was unclear if he spoke for the government.

The comments came four days before Friday's expiration of a U.N. Security Council deadline for Iran to suspend its enrichment of uranium, a process that can produce fuel for nuclear reactors material for nuclear warheads.

"Their final aim is to prevent Iran from completing the enrichment technology," Rowhani said. "Our red line in Iran's nuclear case is that Iran's rights must be guaranteed and we must be able to enrich (uranium)."

The United States says Iran is using a civilian nuclear program as a cover for producing weapons. Iran denies that, saying its program is designed only to generate electrical power.

Earlier this month, Iran announced that for the first time it had enriched uranium with the use of 164 centrifuges, a step toward large- scale enrichment _ which would be necessary to for making nuclear fuel or weapons.