(JTA) — Iran will continue to progress in its nuclear program as long as Israel continues to have nuclear weapons, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said.
The Iranian president made the remarks Tuesday during a meeting with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the semi-official state news agency ISNR reported.
"When an illegal regime possesses nuclear weapons, the other countries’ rights for peaceful nuclear energy cannot be denied," ISNR quoted Ahmadinejad as saying.
Israel is widely believed to possess nuclear weapons but has never admitted to having them.
"The Zionist regime is a threat to all nations and it wants the region to be free of strong countries," Ahmadinejad reportedly told Erdogan. "Today we see that applying force in Gaza was not enough for them, so they are attacking holy Jerusalem."
Ahmadinejad called on the countries to stand together to overcome regional "threats."
The meeting came as United Nations nuclear inspectors visited the site of a previously unknown underground nuclear enrichment plant, and two weeks after Turkey canceled a NATO military exercise due to Israeli participation.