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Iran defends planned holocaust conference
Iran on Tuesday defended its plan to organize a conference to examine what it terms the scientific evidence for the Holocaust.
At the United Nations, the Israeli ambassador said the conference plans were proof that Iran was run by an "extreme, fundamentalist, lunatic regime."
The planned conference, which has drawn condemnation from Western leaders, is yet another step in hard-line President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's public campaign against Israel.
"For over half a century, those who seek to prove the Holocaust have used every podium to defend their position. Now they should listen to others," Iran's Foreign Ministry spokesman, Hamid Reza Asefi, was quoted as saying Tuesday by the official Islamic Republic News Agency.
Ahmadinejad already had called the Nazis' World War II slaughter of 6 million European Jews a "myth" and said the Jewish state should be "wiped off the map."
Dan Gillerman, Israel's ambassador to the United Nations, said the planned conference was "proof of what a global threat Iran really is."
"I fear that the only reason Iran is showing so much interest in the Holocaust is because they may be preparing another Holocaust and it is up to the world and the United Nations to prevent that from happening," Gillerman told The Associated Press on the sidelines of the opening of the "No Child's Play" exhibit at the U.N. commemorating Holocaust remembrance week.
IRNA quoted Asefi as saying: that "blind prejudice together with political interests and aims have closed the eyes of the Holocaust defenders to the realities of the world, and they reject without any logic a scientific conference."
Iran's Foreign Ministry, which was expected to sponsor the conference, has yet to fix a date or place. It was not clear who might attend.
"Iran is proving yet again what an extreme, fundamentalist, lunatic regime it is," Gillerman said.
Ahmadinejad has been issuing the highly inflammatory comments about Israel and the Holocaust in conjunction with the country's deepening confrontation with the West over its nuclear activities. The United States and its allies accuse Iran of seeking nuclear weapons. Tehran says the program is its right under the Nonproliferation Treaty and is designed for electricity generation.
Russia's national security chief and Iran's top nuclear negotiator said Tuesday that the nuclear standoff must be resolved by diplomatic efforts in the U.N. atomic watchdog agency.
The Kremlin statement reflected Russia's efforts to delay Iran's referral to the U.N. Security Council and Moscow's opposition to international sanctions against Tehran.