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Sunday, November 16, 1997 Published at 11:53 GMT


Israeli PM warns 'Iran more dangerous than Iraq'

The scope of the alleged threat

The Israeli Prime Minister, Benyamin Netanyahu, has said that Iran could pose a bigger danger than Iraq.

He said the situation could develop where Iran had nuclear weapons aimed at Britain and the United States.

Speaking on the BBC's Breakfast with Frost, he said that it was right the international community was currently focused on Iraq, and he offered support for President Clinton's diplomatic offensive over the UN weapons inspection crisis.

But he said: "At the same time Iran, unseen, unperturbed and undisturbed is building a formidable arsenal of ballistic missiles, actually ICBM's (Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles).

"Stage One would reach our area, Stage Two it would reach Britain and Stage Three, believe it or not, they actually plan to reach the eastern seaboard of the United States, Manhattan."

[ image: Mr Netanyahu says that Iran's missile technology is coming from the Russians]
Mr Netanyahu says that Iran's missile technology is coming from the Russians
Mr Netanyahu said Russian ballistic missile technology was still reaching Iran, despite diplomatic efforts by Israel and the United States to halt it. He also said that he believed Russia would ultimately become a target of the missiles as well.

But Russia has denied charges from Israel and Washington that it is passing missile technology to Iran.

Mr Netanyahu said: "This sounds fantastic but Iran wants to be a world power with a world ideology of fundamentalist domination, seeing the West as its great enemy.

"It seeks to have weapons to back up that ideology and that is even more dangerous than Saddam because there is a fanaticism, an ideological fanaticism attached to the acquisition of these weapons," he said.

Peace process

The Israeli President, who is meeting leaders of the Jewish community in America after his brief stop in London, brushed aside concerns about his hardline approach to peace in the Middle East.

"You cannot have terror and peace co-existing. This is the crucial thing for us and I think we are making some headway," he said.

The US Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright, was angry that Mr Netanyahu defied her call in September for the construction of new settlements in Arab east Jerusalem to be suspended.

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