Iran, West head for confrontation
Wed Dec 14 2005 09:34:38 ET
By repeatedly calling for Israel's destruction and slamming the door on a nuclear compromise, Iran's hardline president has put Tehran on a collision course with the West, diplomats and analysts warned, AFP reports.
In his latest anti-Israeli assault, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad dismissed the Holocaust as a "myth" and said the Jewish state should be moved as far away as Alaska -- views that one European envoy posted in Tehran described as "way beyond political incorrectness".
"At first, we were tempted to put it down to inexperience or a simple gaffe," he said of the firebrand president's string of outbursts, which began in October with a call for Israel to be "wiped off the map".
"But there is now a clear pattern of confrontational, extremist rhetoric apparently designed to upset the international community. And he's succeeding," said the European diplomat, who asked not to be named.
According to the diplomat, "the very radical change of tone in Iran has to be seen in the context of the nuclear issue" -- or fears that Iran is using an atomic energy drive as a cover for weapons development.
"This kind of talk from the president is not confidence-building, this is confidence destroying. It undermines all the diplomatic efforts to find a mutually satisfactory compromise on a very serious issue. You can't help but feel pessimistic."