JERUSALEM – Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert on Friday compared Iran's nuclear ambitions and threats against Israel with the policies of Nazi Germany and criticized world leaders who maintain relations with Iran's president.
Olmert's speech during a ceremony at Israel's national Holocaust memorial came after a new report that Iran has doubled its capability to enrich uranium -- a process that can produce material for nuclear power reactors or weapons.
Israel has identified Iran as the greatest threat to the Jewish state. Israel's concerns have heightened since the election of Iran's hard-line president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who frequently calls for the destruction of Israel and has questioned whether the Nazi genocide of 6 million Jews took place.
"We hear echoes of those very voices that started to spread across the world in the 1930s," Olmert said in his speech at the Yad Vashem memorial.
In Tehran, a semiofficial news agency said Iran has expanded its controversial nuclear program by injecting gas into a second network of centrifuges and successfully enriching uranium.
The report emerged as world powers are working on a draft resolution in the U.N. Security Council to impose limited sanctions on Iran because of its refusal to cease enrichment. Israel and the United States believe Iran is pursuing nuclear weapons. Tehran says its nuclear program is peaceful.
Olmert said Iran's nuclear program is designed to secure "conventional weapons with delivery systems" to annihilate Israel. He also criticized world leaders for maintaining relations with the Iranian president.
"It is the first time that a leader of a very big and important nation openly and publicly declares that an aim of his nation is to wipe off the map," Olmert said. "And this nation continues to be a legitimate member of the United Nations and leaders of many of the countries in the world receive the leader. They hardly do anything."