Iranian leader: Holocaust a 'myth'
Ahmadinejad: "Why have you created an artificial Zionist regime?"
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TEHRAN, Iran (CNN) -- Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has described the Holocaust as "a myth" and suggested that Israel be moved to Europe, the United States, Canada or Alaska.
The United States, Israel and the European Commission -- along with individual European countries -- have condemned the remark.
Ahmadinejad sparked widespread international condemnation in October when he called for Israel to be "wiped off the map."
Last week, he also expressed doubt about the killing by the Nazis of six million Jews during World War II, but Wednesday was the first occasion when he said in public that the Holocaust was a myth.
"They have invented a myth that Jews were massacred and place this above God, religions and the prophets," Ahmadinejad said in a speech to thousands of people in the Iranian city of Zahedan, according to a report on Wednesday from Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting.
"The West has given more significance to the myth of the genocide of the Jews, even more significant than God, religion, and the prophets," he said. "(It) deals very severely with those who deny this myth but does not do anything to those who deny God, religion, and the prophet."
"If you have burned the Jews, why don't you give a piece of Europe, the United States, Canada or Alaska to Israel," Ahmadinejad said.
"Our question is, if you have committed this huge crime, why should the innocent nation of Palestine pay for this crime?"
Mark Regev, spokesman for Israel's Foreign Ministry, said: "The combination of a regime with a radical agenda, together with a distorted sense of reality that is clearly indicated by the statements we heard today, put together with nuclear weapons -- I think that's a dangerous combination that no one in the international community can accept."
"What the Iranian president has shown us today is that he is clearly outside the international consensus, he is clearly outside international norms and international legitimacy, and in so doing he has shown the Iranian government for what it is -- a rogue regime opposed to peace and stability and a threat to all its neighboring countries," Regev said.
In addition, Ahmadinejad spoke in Zahedan about Iran's nuclear program, maintaining it will insist on its right to develop nuclear energy for peaceful purposes.
"Those who themselves produce nuclear arms should not raise hue and cry against those who only want to gain access to nuclear technology for peaceful purposes," he said, according to a report from the Islamic Republic News Agency.
"Countries which have arsenals of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons which can be used against other countries at their whim and those who supplied the Baathist regime with (chemical) weapons that killed thousands of innocent Iranians ... now go to all lengths to block Iran from gaining access to peaceful nuclear technology," he said.
"We are sure they have criminal intentions, and there was never any doubt that they were piling weapons of mass destruction to be used against less powerful nations," Ahmadinejad said, according to the IRNA report.
In Berlin, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said his government had summoned the Iranian charge d'affaires to make "unmistakably clear" its displeasure, The Associated Press said.
"I cannot hide the fact that this weighs on bilateral relations and on the chances for the negotiation process, the so-called nuclear dossier," Steinmeier said, referring to European talks with Iran on its nuclear program. (Full story)
The White House said the comments underlined the need for the international community to work together to "keep Iran from developing nuclear weapons."
"All responsible leaders in the international community recognize how outrageous such comments are," spokesman Scott McClellan said, Reuters reported.
In Brussels, European Commission spokeswoman Emma Udwin said such "completely unacceptable" comments would do nothing to restore confidence in Iran.
"We feel very strongly that Iran is damaging its own interests with these kind of remarks," she added.
The Spanish government said it "emphatically condemns" the remarks by the Iranian president.
"These statements from the highest levels of Iran, added to previous statements, do not contribute in any way to the peace process between Arabs and Israelis, nor to the stability of the Middle East region," the Spanish Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
Ahmadinejad's views contrast with those of his moderate predecessor Mohammad Khatami, who urged a dialogue among civilizations.
Some conservative allies in Iran have criticized the current president's remarks, AP reported, because they fear he is damaging the country's image.
Moderates have urged the ruling Islamic establishment to rein in the president. But Supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei supports Ahmadinejad's calls for Israel's elimination, the news agency added.
Tehran-based political analyst Mahmoud Alinejad said the president could feel his speeches strengthen Iran diplomatically.
"There is a perception, based on past experience that only when Iran threatens and pushes does the West back off," he told Reuters.
CNN producer Michal Zippori contributed to this report.
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