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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Olmert Takes Hard Line Toward Anti-Semitism

JERUSALEM -- Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, in a thinly veiled reference to Iran, said Sunday that Israel would "not allow the world" to be indifferent to calls for the Jewish people's destruction.

On Saturday, an Iranian nuclear agency official denied claims made by a top lawmaker that the Islamic Republic had begun installing 3,000 centrifuges at an uranium-enrichment plant, Iran's state-run news agency reported.

Olmert spoke after the United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution condemning the denial of the Holocaust. The resolution did not single out any country, but it was clearly directed at Iran, which provoked widespread anger last month by holding a conference casting doubt on the Nazi genocide of Jews.

The Iranian president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, has called the Holocaust a "myth" and has repeatedly preached the destruction of the Jewish state.

"We will not allow the world to once again sink into indifference, heedlessness and silence, thereby giving moral approval to speak in such terms about the existence of the Jewish people," Olmert told members of his Cabinet on Sunday.

Israel considers Iran to be its most dangerous enemy and Olmert repeatedly warns of the risk of allowing Tehran to acquire nuclear weapons. Israel has not said straight out that it would launch a military strike to cripple Iran's nuclear program, as it did against an Iraqi nuclear reactor in 1981, but has hinted repeatedly it might do so.

Tehran insists its nuclear program is designed to produce energy, not weapons.

Hossein Simorgh, spokesman of Iran's Atomic Energy Organization public relations department, said Saturday that "no new centrifuges have been installed in Natanz," referring to the nuclear facility in central Iran, the official Islamic Republic News Agency reported.

Earlier Saturday, lawmaker Alaeddin Boroujerdi said Iran was currently installing the 3,000 centrifuges, underlining that the country would continue to develop its disputed nuclear program despite UN sanctions.

It was not immediately clear why the two officials made contradicting statements. Iranian officials have in recent weeks said the country was moving toward large-scale enrichment involving 3,000 centrifuges, which spin uranium gas into enriched material.

Iran's Foreign Ministry spokesman Mohammad Ali Hosseini refused to elaborate on the discrepancy Sunday, saying only that the contradicting remarks were a "technical matter."

"Let the organization elaborate on it at a convenient time," Hosseini added.

The UN Security Council last month voted unanimously in favor of imposing limited sanctions on Iran after it ignored earlier demands to halt enrichment. Iran faces the prospect of additional sanctions unless it stops enrichment by the end of a 60-day period that ends next month.

International Atomic Energy Association head Mohammed Elbaradei said recently that he believed Iran planned to begin work in February on a uranium-enrichment facility underground. The subterranean facility is intended to protect the nuclear project from attack.