Israel Reaffirms Tough Stance on Iran Olmert 'Certain' Tehran Seeking Nuclear Weapons

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, on an official visit to Berlin, dismissed suggestions that the threat from Iran's nuclear program was receding. He reiterated that no option must be ruled out in dealing with what he remains convinced is a bid to develop nuclear weapons.

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said on Tuesday he remained convinced that Iran is "moving forward" with plans to build nuclear weapons.

"We are certain that the Iranians are engaged in a serious ... clandestine operation to build up a non-conventional capacity," Olmert said at a joint news conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel after a meeting between the two leaders.

"Tell me, why does Iran need enriched uranium at a time when they are supplied by (the) Russians (with) the nuclear fuel for the civilian projects?," he asked. "What else do they plan for which they need the most sophisticated ballistic missiles?"

Olmert said he was sharing information with other countries about Iran's nuclear program, and that no options should be forgotten in trying to prevent Iran from developing atomic weapons. "As (US) President (George W.) Bush once said: no option is ruled out," he said.

Israeli officials have said Olmert planned to press Merkel for stronger international pressure on Iran at the United Nations, where a new sanctions resolution has been drafted, Reuters reported.

"This issue is mainly a challenge for the great powers," Olmert said, speaking through a translator. "We are very interested in coming to a solution that prevents the Iranians from continuing this program," he said, adding all diplomatic efforts to find a solution were welcome.

Last month, Germany joined the five permanent UN Security Council members -- Britain, the United States, France, Russia and China -- in circulating a proposal for a third sanctions resolution against Iran , which boosts existing sanctions such as asset freezes and travel bans on Iranian officials.

Germany has been among those leading efforts to allay concerns over Iran's nuclear ambitions. Merkel said: "I have always said that I believe strongly in a solution via diplomatic channels and that I'm counting on a diplomatic solution and nothing else."

Iran says it wants only to use nuclear power to generate electricity so that it can export more oil and gas.


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