Australia: 'Anti-semitic' Iranian president should face UN court

Australia is considering launching a case in the International Court of Justice against Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad for inciting violence against Israel, prime minister Kevin Rudd said today.

Mr Rudd said Mr Ahmadinejad had made repeated anti-Semitic statements that must be condemned by the international community.

“The Iranian president’s repeated extraordinary statements which are anti-Semitic and expressing a determination to eliminate the modern state of Israel from the map are appalling by any standards of current international relations,” Mr Rudd told Australia’s Sky TV.

“They are an incitement of international violence and what we have said in the past is that we will take legal advice, which the attorney general is currently doing, on whether there is a profitable way forward here through the appropriate international legal mechanisms and we’ll study that advice carefully.”

Mr Rudd, a Chinese-speaking former diplomat, said the Iranian comments were “dangerous stuff” in the context of international relations.

“It’s not just hyperbole from the bully pulpit of Tehran, it’s the roll-on effect across the Islamic world, particularly those who listen to Iran for their guidance,” he said.

The Australian, reported today that Mr Rudd had promised the Australian Jewish community before be came to power at elections in November last year to pursue Mr Ahmadinejad in the International Court of Justice in The Hague.

The United Nations court settles disputes between states according to international law and gives advice to the UN on legal issues.

Attorney General Robert McClelland told the newspaper that taking legal action against Iran was better than the alternative.

“The alternative to not using these international legal mechanisms is considering wholesale invasion of countries, which itself involves, obviously, expense but more relevantly, of course, the potential for significant loss of life,” he said.

The Iranian Embassy in Australia did not immediately comment.

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