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Briefs (right)

In a Slip, Israel’s Leader Seems to
Confirm its Nuclear Arsenal

By Greg Myre

Israel’s prime minister, Ehud Olmert, appeared to acknowledge inadvertently during a TV interview shown Monday that Israel has nuclear weapons, an issue on which the Jewish state has sought to maintain ambiguity for decades.

However, Olmert’s aides said later that there was no change in Israel’s policy of refusing to confirm or deny if it has nuclear weapons.

In an interview with the N24 cable news channel in Germany, Olmert was asked about Iran’s nuclear program. He gave a lengthy response, saying the United States, France, Britain and Russia had nuclear weapons, and were “civilized countries that do not threaten the foundations of the world.”

Olmert then added: “Iran openly, explicitly and publicly threatens to wipe Israel off the map. Can you say that this is the same level, when they are aspiring to have nuclear weapons as America, France, Israel, Russia?”

The interview took place Friday in Israel but shown Monday, timed to Olmert’s visit to Germany.

Olmert’s spokeswoman, Miri Eisin, said by telephone: “Israel’s policy has not changed.” The prime minister and other officials, have consistently said that Israel would not be the first country to introduce nuclear weapons in the Middle East.

Iran Opens Conference
On Holocaust

By Nazila Fathi

Iran held a gathering that included Holocaust deniers, discredited scholars and white supremacists from around the world on Monday under the guise of a conference to “debate” the Nazi slaughter of 6 million Jews.

Among those representing the United States was the former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke, whose prepared remarks, issued by the Iranian Foreign Ministry, said the gas chambers in which millions perished actually did not exist.

Robert Faurisson, an academic from France, said in his speech that the Holocaust was a myth created to justify the occupation of Palestine, meaning the creation of Israel.

This is what Iran’s president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, has frequently claimed, and it was Ahmadinejad’s statements that inspired the foreign ministry to hold the conference. The ministry said 67 people from 30 countries were participating in the two days of meetings.

In a welcoming speech, Rasoul Mousavi, head of the Foreign Ministry’s Institute for Political and International Studies, said the session would provide an opportunity to discuss the Holocaust “away from Western taboos and the restriction imposed on them in Europe.” In several European countries, denial of the Holocaust is a crime.