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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

New Iranian Threats Set Off Alarm Bells in Israel

20 October 2006

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad says Israel no longer has any reason to exist and will soon disappear. The latest threats are adding to Israel's already deep concerns about Iran's nuclear program.

Israeli officials say the saber-rattling from Iran is another warning to the international community that the Islamic regime must not be allowed to get a nuclear bomb. At a pro-Palestinian rally in Tehran, Iran's president said Israeli leaders are a "group of terrorists," and he threatened any country that supports the Jewish state.

He also said Israel is a fake regime that would soon disappear. It was a similar statement to one a year ago, when he threatened "to wipe Israel off the map."

Since then, Israel has watched the Iranian nuclear program with growing alarm. Foreign Minister Tzippe Livni says the leaders of Iran pose a threat to regional and global stability.

"They speak proudly and openly of their desire to wipe Israel off the map," she said. "And now, by their actions, they pursue the weapons to achieve this objective, to imperil the region and to threaten the world."

So what now?

"The world faces a critical test.," she noted.

Israel believes the international community is moving too slowly to stop Iran, and that the U.N. must change course and quickly impose sanctions.

However, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert visited Russia this week to urge a tougher stand on Iran, but came away empty handed from talks with President Vladimir Putin. Russia is building Iran's first nuclear reactor and opposes sanctions on Tehran.

So Mr. Olmert warned that Iran would have "a price to pay" if it does not back down from its nuclear ambitions. It was a broad hint that if the international community does not act, Israel might launch a pre-emptive strike against Iran's nuclear facilities on its own.

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