TEHRAN, Iran — Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Friday threatened any country that supports Israel, and said the United States and its allies had “imposed a group of terrorists” on the region with their support of Israel.
The Iranian leader also called the U.N. Security Council “illegitimate,” ahead of the planned circulation of a draft resolution on Iran next week.
Diplomats have said they would seek limited sanctions on Tehran for its refusal to suspend uranium enrichment — a key process that can produce either fuel for a nuclear reactor or the material for a warhead.
Ahmadinejad’s comments came a day after Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s strongest words to date about Iranian threats. Olmert warned that Iran would have “a price to pay” if it does not back down from its nuclear ambitions — hinting broadly that Israel might be forced to take action.
'This is an ultimatum'
Speaking to tens of thousands of supporters at a pro-Palestinian rally in the capital, Tehran, the Iranian leader addressed Israel’s allies: “It is in your own interest to distance yourself from these criminals... This is an ultimatum. Don’t complain tomorrow.”
Dozens of rallies were held across Iran for “Al-Quds Day,” the Arabic name for Jerusalem. Many became anti-American protests as well, criticizing U.S. support for Israel.
“We have advised the Europeans that the Americans are far away, but you are the neighbors of the nations in this region. We inform you that the nations are like an ocean that is welling up, and if a storm begins, the dimensions will not stay limited to Palestine, and you may get hurt,” he said.
In 1981, the late Iranian leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini declared the last Friday of the Islamic fasting month of Ramadan as “Al-Quds Day,” a day of protest to show the importance of Jerusalem to Muslims. Jerusalem is the third holiest site in Islam after the Saudi Arabian cities of Mecca and Medina.
A banner in Tehran carried a quote from the late Iranian leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini: “Quds is part of Islam’s body.”
Protests also were planned in Egypt and Lebanon.
Ahmadinejad, who has a history of similarly fiery rhetoric, said Israel no longer had any reason to exist and would soon disappear.
“This regime, thanks to God, has lost the reason for its existence,” he said.
“Efforts to stabilize this fake (Israeli) regime, by the grace of God, have completely failed... You should believe that this regime is disappearing,” he said.
Talking to reporters Thursday on his way home from a three-day trip to Moscow, Olmert did not specifically threaten to cripple Iran’s nuclear program in a military strike, as Israel did 25 years ago in Iraq when it sent combat planes to destroy an unfinished nuclear reactor. But he repeated what he said a day earlier after meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow — the Iranians “have to be afraid” of the consequences of their intransigence.
“They have to understand that if they object to every compromise, there will be a price to pay,” Olmert said.
Iran says its nuclear pursuits are peaceful and energy-related. But the United States and some in Europe accuse Iran of seeking to develop nuclear weapons. Enrichment is a key process that can produce either fuel for a nuclear reactor or the material for a warhead.
'Security Council is illegitimate'
On Friday, Ahmadinejad said the U.N. Security Council and its decisions would be “illegitimate” as long as it was dominated by the U.S. and Britain.
“What sort of Security Council is this? The whole world knows that the U.S. and Britain are enemies of the Iranian nation,” he said.
The United States and Britain — along with France, Russia and China — have power to veto any Security Council measures.
“The time is over for such logic. Under such circumstances, the Security Council is illegitimate and its decisions are illegitimate,” Ahmadinejad said, drawing chants of “Death to America” from the crowd.
Ahmadinejad has said the Nazis’ slaughter of 6 million Jews during World War II was a myth, and that Israel should be wiped off the map or moved to Germany or the United States.
© 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.