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Iranian President Calls for Israel's Destruction: Responses From World Leaders

Posted: October 27, 2005

Immediately following the remarks by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad at a conference in Tehran, where he said that "Israel must be wiped off of the map," his remarks were condemned by leaders from around the world.  Speaking to a large gathering of students on an October 26 program titled, "The World Without Zionism," Mr. Ahmadinejad called on Palestinians to take control of the land, saying that "The establishment of a Zionist regime was a move by the world oppressor against the Islamic world."


The following is a compilation of selected statements by world leaders in response to the Iranian president's remarks.


United States – John R. Bolton, Ambassador to the United Nations: Called President Ahmadinejad's comments "pernicious and unacceptable." 


R. Nicholas Burns, Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs:  "These comments were outrageous and irresponsible and they betray the ideology of this new government, which is harsh and uncompromising.  If you look at the reaction around the world, the Iranian government appears to be in a hole and keeps digging."


White House press secretary Scott McClellan: "I think it reconfirms what we have been saying about the regime in Iran.  It underscores the concerns we have about Iran's nuclear intentions."


European Union – Joint Statement by Leadership:  "EU leaders ... today condemned in the strongest terms the comments in respect of the State of Israel attributed to President (Mahmoud) Ahmadinejad of Iran. Calls for violence and for the destruction of any state are manifestly inconsistent with any claim to be a mature and responsible member of the international community. Such comments will cause concern about Iran's role in the region, and its future intentions."


United Nations – Press statement by Security Council President Mihnea Ioan Motoc: The members of the Security Council condemn the remarks about Israel attributed to H.E. Mr. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, President of the Islamic Republic of Iran.  The members of the Security Council support the Secretary-General's statement of 27 October noting that, under the United Nations Charter, all Members have undertaken to refrain from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any State.


Great Britain – Prime Minister Tony Blair – "I felt a real sense of revulsion at those remarks, and to anybody in Europe, knowing our history, when we hear statements like that made about Israel, it makes us feel very angry. ...


"If they carry on like this, the question people are going to be asking us is: 'When are you going to do something about this?' Because you imagine a state like that, with an attitude like that, having nuclear weapons."


France – President Jacques Chirac – "I was profoundly shocked by the statements of the Iranian President, which are totally senseless and irresponsible. The Iranian President is taking the risk of his country being made an outlaw state."


Statement by Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy: "I have learned of wire service reports in which the President of Iran says he would like to see the disappearance of Israel and allegedly affirms that the Mideast conflict will perpetuate an age-old conflict between Jews and Muslims.  If those remarks were indeed made, they are unacceptable. I condemn them with the utmost firmness and have called the Iranian Ambassador in Paris to the Quai d'Orsay to provide explanations.   For France, Israel's right to exist cannot be contested. That State was created by a  decision of the United Nations General Assembly. International law applies to all.  The question of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict cannot serve as a pretext to challenge Israel's fundamental right to exist."


Germany – Federal government statement: "The comments made by the Iranian President on 26 October which call into question Israel's right to exist are, in the Federal Government's view, entirely unacceptable and are to be most strongly condemned. In the absence of the Iranian Ambassador, the chargé d'affaires of the Embassy of the Islamic Republic of Iran was summoned to the Federal Foreign Office on 27 October. We drew his attention to our condemnation of the comments made by the Iranian President and emphasized that the Federal Government holds Israel's right to exist to be inviolable. The chargé d'affaires promised to communicate our position to his government. The Heads of State and Government assembled in Hampton Court at the informal EU summit have also condemned the comments made by the Iranian President in the strongest terms."


Russia – Statement by the Foreign Ministry: Denunciation of "propagandist rhetoric," and that Russia hopes "that Tehran will realize the extent of damage that can be inflicted by confrontational approaches". 


Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov: "I don't agree that anyone should challenge the right of any U.N. member to exist, this is indeed inadmissible."


Italy Statement by Italian Foreign Ministry:   "....Expressed discomfort and concern to the Iranian ambassador in Rome...The contents and tone of such unacceptable statements confirm worries over the political positions pursued by the new Iranian leadership, especially concerning the nuclear dossier."


Spain Statement by Foreign Ministry: " ... Foreign Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos has expressed his rejection in the most emphatic terms and has decided to urgently call in the Iranian ambassador to ask him for an explanation".


Hungary – Deputy State Secretary Laszlo Varkonyi: "No leader of a country which considers itself a responsible member of the international community can make such a statement."


Turkey – Foreign Ministry spokesman Namik Tan: "Turkey believes that regional conflicts can only be solved through dialogue and peaceful methods.  Turkey believes that international relations should be developed in a spirit of intercultural harmony and dialogue at a time when our world faces the danger of a clash between civilizations. Naturally it is not possible for us to approve of such a statement.

China – Foreign Ministry statement:  "This kind of opinion violates the principles of the Charter of the United Nations, and intensifies tensions in the Middle East and goes against the interests of the Middle East region and its people. China feels unease regarding this opinion.


Canada Statement by External Affairs Minister Pierre Pettigrew: "I want to vigorously condemn the remarks made by Iran's president. We are in the 21st century. Canada will never accept such hatred, intolerance and anti-Semitism. Never. The comments are all the more troubling given Iran's nuclear ambitions and its refusal to cooperate fully with International Atomic Energy inspectors. This refusal underlines the need for all countries to stand together to ensure that Iran is prevented from developing nuclear weaponry."


Australia – Statement by Prime Minister John Howard: "To have the president of any country saying another should be wiped off the face of the earth is a reminder of the psychological pressure, quite apart from the actual pressure, that the state of Israel is under, and this obviously is an issue that the United Nations has to address."


Palestinian Authority – Senior Negotiator Saeb Erekat - "This is unacceptable to us. We have recognized the state of Israel and we are pursuing a peace process with Israel, and ... we do not accept the statements of the president of Iran. This is unacceptable."


Japan – Foreign Ministry statement: Comments are ''unacceptable in whatever context."

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