Jerusalem: Iran is a danger to the whole civilised world, not just Israel, President Shimon Peres warned on Sunday, setting an especially sombre tone for his nation`s annual memorial day for soldiers and civilians killed in wars and terror attacks.
Alluding to Iran`s nuclear programme, Peres said the country threatens to annihilate Israel. "On no account must we underestimate these threats," he said. "Nor should our enemies underestimate our capabilities."
Israel has been urging the world community to impose stiff sanctions on Iran to force it to abandon its nuclear programme, but Israel has not taken the option of a military strike against Iran off the table.
Israel, the US and others believe Iran is trying to build nuclear weapons. Iran insists its nuclear programme is peaceful.
Speaking at the Western Wall in the Old City of Jerusalem before relatives of fallen soldiers, Peres added, "A threat to the peace of the Jewish people always carries the danger of turning into a threat to the civilised world as a whole."
Israel considers Iran a strategic threat because of its nuclear programme, long-range missiles and frequent references by its President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, to Israel`s destruction.
Just hours earlier in Tehran, Ahmadinejad addressed a military parade and warned, "Today, our armed forces have so much power that no enemy will harbour evil thoughts about laying its hands on Iranian territory." He called on the US and its allies to pull out of the region "and stop supporting Israel”.
Air raid sirens sounded across Israel after nightfall to mark the beginning of the solemn day, when relatives visit graves at military cemeteries around the country. Another siren at midmorning tomorrow signals the beginning of state ceremonies at the cemeteries.