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Rudd vows to charge Iran leader

A LABOR government would attempt to bring Iran's President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, before the International Court of Justice to face charges of "inciting genocide" in an effort to force the rogue Middle East leader to justify his attacks on Israel.

In a dramatic lift in diplomatic pressure on a bellicose and defiant Iran, Kevin Rudd has committed a Labor government to take "legal proceedings against President Ahmadinejad on a charge of incitement to genocide".

The Leader of the Opposition said the charge of incitement to genocide "could occur through the International Court of Justice on reference by the UN Security Council" because of Mr Ahmadinejad's public statements.

"They refer to statements about wiping Israel off the map, questioning whether Zionists are human beings and the recent abhorrent conference that he convened on the veracity of the Holocaust," Mr Rudd said.

"It is strongly arguable that this conduct amounts to incitement to genocide, criminalised under the 1948 genocide convention."

But Foreign Minister Alexander Downer said last night Mr Rudd was knowingly misleading the Australian public and the Jewish community with a "ghastly stunt" that he knew could not be carried out and would only undermine Australia's diplomatic standing.

Labor has also been previously advised by international prosecutors of difficulties with such a proposal.

The ALP has for months been considering the steps against the Iranian President and similar moves against the leadership of Zimbabwe and Burma.

Labor foreign affairs spokesman Rob McClelland was recently advised by the International Criminal Court's special prosecutor, Luis Moreno-Ocampi, of the difficulty of taking such action.

Mr Moreno-Ocampi emphasised to Mr McClelland that the ICC wanted to ensure it undertook cases where warrants could be executed and action taken.

Labor's diplomatic offensive came as Mr Rudd ruled out support for a US military strike against Iranian nuclear facilities. Asked about US reports that Australia had been briefed on Pentagon plans, the Labor leader said: "The only viable strategy that we can see is diplomacy."

Last night, Mr Downer condemned the plans to charge Mr Ahmadinejad with inciting genocide, telling The Australian that countries only could be taken to the ICJ. Individuals such as Mr Ahmadinejad can only be taken to the International Criminal Court.

"To take an individual to the ICC the relevant country has to be a party to the statute of the ICC, but Iran, Zimbabwe and Burma are not. You can only take them to the ICC if the country is not a party and if all five members of the UN Security Council agree," Mr Downer said.

"The reality is there is just no chance of the UN Security Council agreeing to send to the ICC the leadership of Burma, Zimbabwe or President Ahmadinejad.

"Mr Rudd knows this, he can't (take legal action), but he says he will for a political purpose. He just comes up with stunts and the problem is that Australia's voice will be seen as a voice of stunts."

Mr Rudd said an Australian-sponsored charge would undermine the President's international legitimacy and require him to "justify his inflammatory and destabilising posturing and rhetoric".

The Iranian embassy in Canberra was aware of Mr Rudd's statements but did not comment last night.

Mr Rudd said Mr Ahmadinejad's comments about wiping Israel off the map and his "abhorrent" conference questioning the veracity of the Holocaust were grounds to bring genocide incitement charges.

Mr Rudd's remarks come as he is deeply involved in campaigning in the Sydney seat of Wentworth where there is a large Jewish population and Environment Minister Malcolm Turnbull is fighting for his political life against a Jewish Labor candidate, George Newhouse.

Mr Rudd and Melbourne Ports Labor MP Michael Danby, the only Jewish MP, have been working hard to repair relations between Jewish communities and the ALP with policies aimed at helping low-fee private schools.

In a series of written replies to the latest edition of the Australia/Israel Review, Mr Rudd said Iran's "repeated violations of international law and monitoring requirements for its nuclear program are intensely concerning".

He said Iran represented a threat not just to Israel but also to the broader Middle East and the rest of the world as well, and he supported further sanctions.

John Howard, in the same AIR edition, said the Australian Government was "seriously concerned" about the support Iran was giving insurgents in Iraq and Afghanistan, and its breach of nuclear regulations and Security Council resolutions.

The Prime Minister said Australia supported the sanctions in place against Iran and would implement any further sanctions imposed by the UN.

Mr Ahmadinejad was at the centre of a furore in New York last week when Columbia University president Lee Bollinger slammed his guest speaker in an opening address that had the Iranian President seething.

"Mr President, you exhibit all the signs of a petty and cruel dictator," Mr Bollinger said.

He described Mr Ahmadinejad's denial of the Holocaust as "simply ridiculous", saying "the truth is that the Holocaust is the most documented event in human history".

Mr Ahmadinejad has denied making some of the claims attributed to him but sponsored a conference that challenged whether the Holocaust, which killed six million people, mostly Jews, took place.

Last night, NSW Jewish Board of Deputies chief executive Vic Alhadeff said Mr Ahmadinejad had been allowed to threaten Israel and the free world for "toolong".

"The benefit of Mr Rudd's initiative is that it would challenge Ahmadinejad's legitimacy and highlight the dangers he represents, both directly and through his proxies - Hamas and Hezbollah," he said.

"The most critical issue, however, is Iran's drive towards nuclear enrichment. That is where effective pressure is most urgently needed. A nuclear Iran threatens the entire free world."

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“No fan’s” appeal to authority (in the form of Irwin Cotler) won’t persuade this boring partisan to support the Rudd initiative. (We all remember of course what a great friend of Israel the Liberal (i.e. Socialist) Government of Canada, in which Cotler served as a minister, showed itself to be? As they say, with friends like these…) On the other hand, Loewenstein’s opposition (see today’s letter in The Australian) is indeed a powerful argument in favour of supporting the Rudd initiative. Notwithstanding, I remain unpersuaded about the wisdom of giving futility a chance. Now bombing on the other hand …

Posted by NP on 2007-10-04 01:49:33 GMT

Are some contributors like "NP" pro-Israel or just boring partisans against Labor.This policy was suggested by former Canadian Attorney General-Prof Irwin Cotler.Go & google him ,read about the international campaign,then apologise to Rudd.

Posted by No fan of Silas on 2007-10-03 12:19:02 GMT

Snake oil for sale. So who's buying?

Posted by NP on 2007-10-03 09:04:01 GMT

Kevin Rudd has taken a very courageous stand on the stage of world politics. It is most welcome and shows that regardless of which party is in control after the upcoming election, Israel will have an ally in Canberra.

Posted by Wazza on 2007-10-03 06:02:40 GMT