Iran’s new president admitted on Tuesday that the Holocaust took place, in a sharp contrast to his predecessor.
Speaking to CNN’s Christiane Amanpour, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said that the Nazis committed a "reprehensible" crime against the Jewish people.
The remark came in response to Amanpour’s question if he accepted that the Holocaust occurred.
"I am not a historian and when it comes to speaking of the dimensions of the Holocaust it is the historians that should reflect," he said.
"But in general I can tell you that any crime that happens in history against humanity, including the crime the Nazis created towards the Jews, is reprehensible and condemnable," he added.
The comments are a complete turnaround from the rhetoric used by former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who made it a habit to deny the Holocaust.
Ahmadinejad said in one interview the Holocaust “was a colonialist plan that resulted from a lie” that Israel exploits to suppress Palestinian Authority Arabs.
He asserted in that interview that Jews “never were rulers of this land. They made a story named Holocaust, and the Palestinians have to pay the price for it.”
In another incident Ahmadinejad said that the Holocaust was exaggerated in order to create a pretext for starting a war. He remarked that the Holocaust is a matter that must researched further.
Before he ended his presidency, Ahmadinejad boasted that his proudest moment was the Holocaust denial.
Rouhani’s comments in the CNN interview come several days after he avoided the subject of the Holocaust when asked about it by NBC’s Ann Curry.
Curry asked the Iranian president whether he believed the Holocaust was a historical fact, to which replied by saying he was a politician, not a historian.
His refusal to address the subject in that interview was one of the reasons cited by members of the Iranian Jewish community in the United States when they refused an invitation to meet Rouhani in New York.