TEHRAN, Iran – Iran’s hard-line president lashed out with a new outburst at Israel on Wednesday, calling the Nazi Holocaust a “myth” used as a pretext for carving out a Jewish state in the heart of the Muslim world.
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s comments drew quick condemnations from Israel, the United States and Europe, which warned he is hurting Iran’s position in talks aimed at resolving suspicions about his regime’s nuclear program.
In unusually strong comments, a top European Union official said Iranians “do not have the president, or the regime, they deserve.”
“It calls our attention to the real danger of that regime having an atomic bomb,” said the president of the EU’s administrative body, Jose Manuel Barroso.
The Bush administration also said Ahmadinejad’s remarks showed why Iran must not be allowed to develop nuclear weapons.
Last week, Ahmadinejad expressed doubt about Nazi Germany’s slaughter of 6 million European Jews during World War II, raising a new storm of criticism.
On Wednesday, he went a step further and said for the first time that he didn’t believe the Holocaust happened.
During a tour of southeastern Iran, Ahmadinejad said that if Europeans insist the Holocaust occurred, then they are responsible and should pay the price.
“Today, they have created a myth in the name of Holocaust and consider it to be above God, religion and the prophets,” Ahmadinejad told thousands of people in Zahedan. “If you committed this big crime, then why should the oppressed Palestinian nation pay the price?”
“This is our proposal: If you committed the crime, then give a part of your own land in Europe, the United States, Canada or Alaska to them so that the Jews can establish their country,” he said.