Ahmadinejad to Obama: Choose Israel or Iran

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ISTANBUL - Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad called on President Barack Obama to choose between Israel and Iran.

Ahmadinejad presented his ultimatum on Tuesday evening at the 25th session of the Standing Committee for Economic and Commercial Cooperation of the Organization of the Islamic Conference in Istanbul.

"The support of both Israel and Iran can't go hand in hand. No change is made unless great choices are made," Ahmadinejad said, according to IRNA, the Islamic Republic's state-run news agency.

"We would welcome the changes and wait for big and correct decisions to be made," he said. "We will clasp any hand that is extended sincerely toward us, but changes should be made in practice," Ahmadinejad said.

Meanwhile, close examination of the weapons cache, which Israel confiscated from the Francop cargo vessel on November 4, confirmed "conclusively that the source of the arms was Iran. This is clear both from the shipping documents and from the markings on the munitions themselves," Israel's Foreign Ministry stated in a press release.

"Hidden among the dozens of other containers on board and disguised as civilian goods, the ship contained a consignment of 36 shipping containers with 500 tons of arms en route via Syria to the Hezbollah terrorist organization in Lebanon. A total of about 9,000 mortar bombs of different types were seized, along with about 3,000 Katyusha artillery rockets, 3,000 recoilless gun shells, 20,000 grenades and over half a million rounds of small arms ammunition," the statement read.

On Tuesday, in a closed council meeting at United Nations headquarters in New York, the U.S. said the shipment, "clearly manifested from Iran to Syria," constituted a violation by Iran of a March 2007 U.N. arms embargo and was "unambiguous evidence of the destabilizing proliferation of arms in the region."

The U.S. also said Iranian and Syrian "material support" for Hezbollah and other Lebanese-based terror groups were a violation of U.N. Resolution 1701, issued with the cease-fire that ended the Second Lebanon War in the summer of 2006.

Syrian Ambassador Bashar Ja'afari responded by accusing Israel of "an act of piracy on the high seas."

"All these rumors circulated by the Israelis are…the usual Israeli outrageous concoction of lies," Ja'afari said.

Following the meeting, British Deputy Ambassador Philip Parham told reporters that seizure of the Francop marks the third illegal Iranian arms shipment this year.

"We hope that Iran will play a part in achieving a secure, peaceful and prosperous Middle East, but its current behavior appears to point in a different direction," Parham said.

Sources: Israeli Foreign Ministry, The Associated Press, The Jerusalem Post

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