Iran's Rafsanjani suggests  nuclear attack on Israel


Tuesday, December 18, 2001

One of Iran’s most influential ruling clerics called on the Muslim states to use nuclear weapon against Israel, assuring them that while such an attack would annihilate Israel, it would cost them "damages only".

The speech by former Iranian President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani failed to catch the attention of the western press but made waves  in the Middle East.

"If a day comes when the world of Islam is duly equipped with the arms Israel has in its possession, the strategy of colonialism would face a stalemate because application of an atomic bomb would not leave anything in Israel but the same thing would just produce damages in the Muslim world", Former Iranian President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani told the crowd at the traditional Friday prayers in Tehran.

In Washington Sunday, administration officials said the United States does not plan to target Iran in the war against terrorism.

 "Iran is a situation where there are clearly some pressures from young people, there are pressures from women in that country," U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said. "Iran had a different history than Iraq.  I don't know, if nothing else happened and one looked at those two countries, I would say the likelihood of Iraq reforming itself is zero.  The possibility, the remote possibility of Iran reforming itself is considerably above zero."

Dr. Assad Homayou, president of the Azadegan Foundation in Washington, D.C. agreed.   "To me the issue is not nuclear weapons but the responsibility of the regime," he said. "This regime is not responsible and that is why I have always emphasized that the removal of this regime is imperative. As the U.S. secretary of defense said the situation with Iran is different from that of Iraq. People only need the moral support of the United States."

Analysts told the Iranian Press Service that  Rafsanjani's speech marks the first time a prominent leader of the Islamic Republic had openly suggested the use of nuclear weapon against the Jewish State.

Rafsanjani advised Western states not to pin their hopes on Israel's violence because it will be "very dangerous".

"We are not willing to see security in the world is harmed", he said, warning that a war "of the pious and martyrdom seeking forces against peaks of colonialism will be highly dangerous and might fan flames of World War III."

Rafsanjani, who, as the Chairman of the Assembly to Discern the Interests of the State, is the Islamic Republic’s number two man after Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. He was speaking on "International Qods (Jerusalem) Day" which is celebrated in Iran only.

     The Pentagon, which has pressed for a second stage in the U.S. war against terrorism, does not support any military campaign against Iran. Instead, officials have urged that Washington target the regime of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.

       On Monday, Iranian President Mohammed Khatami said the stifling of dissent in the country could spark a new wave of student protests, Middle East Newsline reported. Over the last 20 months, officials said, 56 publications have been closed. This includes 24 daily newspapers.

    U.S. officials acknowledge that Iran is more advanced than Iraq in both missile development and weapons of mass destruction. They said that Iran, with Russian help, has succeeded in advancing its nuclear project and they could arrive at weapons capability as early as 2005.

    But the officials said the administration has been impressed with Iran's help in the U.S.-led war in Afghanistan. The help has included military coordination, security along the Afghan border and intelligence exchange.

    Some officials expect Iran to also quietly support any U.S. military campaign against Iraq. Iraq is Teheran's rival and neighbor and Saddam used chemical weapons against Iran during their 1980-88 war.

    One scenario being envisioned by Pentagon sources is increased Iranian help to Shi'ite opposition forces in southern Iraq. The Iranian help could also include coordination for any U.S. ground attack in the oil fields around the southern port of Basra.

    "I would characterize Iraq as a dictator in a repressive system that is unlikely to be altered from within absent an assassination or something like that," Rumsfeld said.

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