WASHINGTON — Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert reiterated his warning that the Jewish state will not tolerate a nuclear-armed Iran, but expressed hope the international community would be successful in checking Tehran's nuclear ambitions.
"Yes, Israel will not tolerate a nuclear weapon in the hands of people who say openly, explicitly and publicly that they want to wipe Israel off the map. Why should we?" Olmert asked in an interview with The Washington Post.
The newspaper plans to publish the interview in its Sunday issue, but it posted the text on its website late Friday.
At the same time, the prime minister held out hope that diplomatic efforts by the United States, the European Union and Russia aimed at ensuring the peaceful nature of the Iranian nuclear program would bear fruit.
"I hope they will be successful," Olmert said.
However, he sharply disagreed with findings contained in last year's US National Intelligence Estimate, which argued that Iran's military nuclear program had been halted in 2003.
"Based on the information we have, the military program continues and has never been stopped," Olmert insisted.
"If this program continues, at some point they will be in possession of a nuclear weapon," he warned.