Israel insists Iran still working on nuclear weapon

Israel Materials 12 February 2008 14:48 (UTC +04:00)

( dpa ) - Iran is continuing to work on acquiring a nuclear weapon, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said Tuesday, following talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin.

"Nothing that we know has changed our attitudes," Olmert told a joint press conference with Merkel.

"We are certain the Iranians are engaged in serious clandestine operations to build an unconventional weapon," he said.

Olmert said there could be no other reason for Iran to continue to pursue its uranium enrichment activities when it was receiving nuclear fuel from Russia for its civilian nuclear programme.

Merkel said Germany would continue its dual strategy of pressing Iran to comply with the demands of the international community on halting enrichment and of offering economic incentives if it did.

"I have said over and over again that I firmly believe in a solution by diplomatic means and that I am banking on a diplomatic solution," the chancellor said.

Germany, along with the five permanent members of the UN Security Council, were currently working on the text of a third resolution on Iran, she noted.

On the peace talks with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, Olmert said Israel faced a "very unusual situation" in attempting to conduct negotiations while at the same time coming under attack, not only from Gaza but from other parts of the Palestinian territories.

Merkel refused to criticize Israel's blockade of Gaza and the restriction of electricity supplies.

"I know that the humanitarian situation in Gaza Strip is difficult, and we are trying to help in this regard where we can," she said.

"But the simplest answer is that the targeting of the Israeli state, the terrorist activities must be ended," Merkel said.

No one wanted to abuse the humanitarian situation in Gaza, but it was a fact that terrorist acts were being carried out "on the backs" of the people there, she said.