Israel will be annihilated in one storm, says Iran leader
The Daily Telegraph ^ | April 15, 2006 | Tim Butcher

Posted on 04/15/2006 1:11:39 AM PDT

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran appeared to threaten Israel with a nuclear attack yesterday when he described it as a "rotten, dried tree" that would be annihilated by "one storm".

In his most vitriolic and anti-semitic attack to date, Mr Ahmadinejad warned that Israel faced imminent destruction.

While he did not refer explicitly to nuclear weapons, his reference to the "one storm" that would do away with Israel was seen as a code for nuclear Armageddon.

Iran does not yet have nuclear weapons but Teheran is widely believed to be bent on developing its own nuclear military capability, in defiance of international protocols and peace treaties. Yesterday's outburst will only worsen the stand-off between Iran and the major powers over its nuclear ambitions.

President George W Bush, like many US leaders before him, is an ardent supporter of Israel and his administration would not stand by if Iran posed a threat to it.

Israel for its part has warned that it would not allow Iran to acquire a nuclear capability. Israel is the only Middle Eastern country with nuclear weapons although it never publicly admits this.

Speaking at the opening of a conference in Teheran to support the Palestinian cause, Mr Ahmadinejad repeated earlier anti-semitic attacks in Israel, questioning the scale of the Nazi Holocaust and attacking Zionism.

"Like it or not, the Zionist regime is heading toward annihilation," he said. "The Zionist regime is a rotten, dried tree that will be eliminated by one storm."

And he poured scorn on the established history of the Holocaust, saying that an atrocity committed in Europe should be settled in Europe.

"If such a disaster is true, why should the people of this region pay the price? Why does the Palestinian nation have to be suppressed and have its land occupied?"

The land of Palestine, he said, referring to the British mandated territory that includes all of Israel, Gaza and the West Bank, "will be freed soon".

He did not say how this would be achieved, but insisted to the audience of at least 900: "Believe that Palestine will be freed soon." The president provoked world outcry last October when he said Israel should be "wiped off the map".

Mr Ahmadinejad was speaking days after an Israeli general spoke of the military potential of Iran's nuclear programme.

The chief of military intelligence, Maj-Gen Amos Yadlin, was quoted on Wednesday as saying Iran could develop a nuclear bomb "within three years, by the end of the decade".

A day earlier, Mr Ahmadinejad had announced that Iran had successfully enriched uranium using a battery of 164 centrifuges, a significant step toward the large-scale production of enriched uranium required for either fuelling nuclear reactors or making nuclear bombs.

Meanwhile, the head of Iran's Revolutionary Guards yesterday warned the US not to attack the Islamic republic, saying that American troops in Iraq and the region were vulnerable.

General Yahya Rahim Safavi, one of Teheran's most powerful figures, said of the US: "You can start a war but it won't be you who finishes it.

"The Iranian armed forces are totally ready to defend the country. If the Americans attack Iran, they will be making a second strategic error after their attack against Iraq."

Speaking at the pro-Palestinian conference in Teheran, the general warned: "The Americans know better than anyone that their troops in the region and in Iraq are vulnerable. I would advise them not to commit such a strategic error."