Update to this story.

(Egypt Independent) — Iran’s deputy culture minister on Saturday hailed German Nobel literature laureate Gunter Grass’s poem in which he accused Israel of plotting Tehran’s annihilation, local media reported.

In a letter addressed to “Distinguished author Dr Gunter Grass,” Deputy Culture Minister Javad Shamaqdari was quoted as saying: “I read your literary work of human and historical responsibility, and it warns beautifully.”

“Telling the truth in this way may awake the silent and dormant conscience of the West. Writers are able single-handedly to prevent human tragedies, in a way that armies cannot.”

The 84-year-old Grass sparked outrage at home and abroad on Wednesday when he published “What must be said” in a newspaper. In it he said he feared a nuclear-armed Israel “could wipe out the Iranian people” with a “first strike.”

Grass, a long-time leftist activist, said in interviews on Thursday that the media had attacked him without understanding his message, and although he found the personal accusations against him “hurtful,” he had no plans to back down.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday called Grass’s poem “shameful.”

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