Israel's Goal in Iran Affair is to Prevent Second Holocaust, Olmert Says

By Julie Stahl | July 7, 2008 | 8:17 PM EDT

Jerusalem ( - Israel is not spearheading the international struggle against Iran's nuclear program, but it is leading the charge to have the issue placed at the top of the world's agenda, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said Wednesday.

Speaking at a major annual security conference in Herzliya - where prime ministers have in the past made major policy announcements - Olmert stuck to the topic of Iran's nuclear activity, a subject on which he said Israelis across the political spectrum agree.

He noted that while pursuing nuclear capability, Iran was also supporting terrorism by backing Hizballah in Lebanon, Shi'ite squads in Iraq, and Hamas in the Palestinian territories.

Olmert, who recently completed a series of visits to the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council, said they were in "clear agreement" that Iran must not be allowed to obtain nuclear weapons.

The U.S. and many other nations believe Iran is using its civilian nuclear program as a cover for attempts to develop an atomic bomb. Iran denies the charges.

The Security Council imposed sanctions on Iran last month after Tehran refused to halt its uranium enrichment program. The process produces fuel for civilian reactors but is also necessary to make a nuclear weapon.

Olmert said he believed it was not too late for diplomacy to have an effect, but the international community must take harsher measures in the future.

Israel's role is to prevent the world from making the same mistake it did during World War II, when it was silent during the Nazi Holocaust. The Jewish people could not risk another existential threat, he said.

When a country declares that it wants to wipe another country off the map, third nations are obligated to "act with all force against this plot," Olmert said, referring to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's statements regarding Israel.

The prime minister said Israel was capable of defending itself. Its restraint should not be mistaken for weakness.

He said Israel was united against the threat, and would prevail.

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