EU condemns Ahmadinejad's Holocaust remarks
16 December 2005, BRUSSELS - European Union leaders on Friday agreed a sharply worded declaration warning that time was running out for a diplomatic deal on Iran's nuclear programme and condemning Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's denial of the Holocaust.
16 December 2005
BRUSSELS - European Union leaders on Friday agreed a sharply worded declaration warning that time was running out for a diplomatic deal on Iran's nuclear programme and condemning Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's denial of the Holocaust.
"While the E.U. continues to work for a diplomatic solution, the window of opportunity will not remain open indefinitely," said the statement issued at a meeting of the 25 European Union members in Brussels.
The E.U. has been attempting to defuse tensions over Iran's nuclear programme under a diplomatic bid headed by the so-called E.U. trio of Britain, France and Germany.
"The mood is getting more skeptical... on whether the E.U. 3 can play any role," said a senior official, adding that the ball was now firmly in the Iranian government's court.
The E.U. has offered Iran aid and trade concessions if it reins in its nuclear activities, which countries such as the United States believe are aimed at building a nuclear bomb.
"The European Council is gravely concerned at Iran's failure to build confidence that its nuclear programme is exclusively peaceful," said the statement.
The European Council, which brings together ministers from member states, is the main decision-making body within the European Union.
The E.U. said it was keeping its "diplomatic options under review" with regard to Iran - a thinly veiled warning that the bloc might support a move to refer Iran to the U.N. Security Council for possible sanctions.
Referring to a speech earlier this week by Ahmadinejad, in which he referred to the Jewish Holocaust as a "fairytale", the E.U. said: "These comments are wholly unacceptable and have no place in civilised political debate."
The "fairytale" remark was the latest in a series of anti-Israeli remarks by the Iranian leader which included calls for moving Israel to German or Austrian territory.
Swedish Prime Minister Goran Persson sharply criticized President Ahmadinejad.
"What the Iranian President has said about the state of Israel is completely unacceptable. He knows that he is wrong. He knows that he is denying the Holocaust and he is wrong. It's completely unacceptable. I condemn it," said Persson.
Some six million Jews were murdered during the Holocaust under Nazi Germany.
Germany, which treats denial of the Holocaust as a crime, has led calls for the E.U. to take a tougher stance against Iran.
Subject: German news