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Sharon:  Iran is 'Center of World Terror' - 2002-11-05

Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said when the international community finishes dealing with Iraq, it should turn its attention to Iran. Mr. Sharon made the comments in an interview with the newspaper The London Times.

Mr. Sharon labels Iran, "a center of world terror." He said Iran is making every effort to acquire weapons of mass destruction that would pose a threat to the Middle East and Europe.

Mr. Sharon believes that if military action is taken against Iraq, then Iran must be the next target of world pressure.

Reacting to the newspaper interview, British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw spoke on BBC radio, quickly dismissing the views taken by the Israeli prime minister. "I understand why people in Israel are frightened, but I profoundly disagree with him and I think it would be the gravest possible error to think in that way," Mr. Straw said.

The British Foreign Secretary said the situations in Iran and Iraq are significantly different. "I know that Iran has a very hostile attitude to the existence of the state of Israel, but I also know that Iran, a country I have visited three times in the past 12 months, is a nation in a state of transition. It has an elected government, which Iraq palpably does not. That elected government is seeking to exert its authority over the whole of the government of Iran, including the armed forces and security apparatus, which at the moment is controlled effectively by the religious authority under the leader Khamenei rather than the president Khatami," he said.

Mr. Straw said the international community should work with Iran's elected leaders to help bring reforms.

In the London Times interview, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon also accuses Iran of smuggling arms to the Palestinian Authority and of trying to turn Israel's one million Arab citizens against the Jewish State.