Iran to use "all means" to defend itself if attacked
2 hours, 36 minutes ago
TEHRAN (Reuters) - Iran said on Wednesday it would use "all our means" to defend itself if attacked by the West, three days after France's foreign minister publicly raised the possibility of war over Tehran's disputed nuclear activities.
When asked whether Iran would block the Hormuz Strait, the world's most important water way for oil shipments, if attacked, government spokesman Gholamhossein Elham dismissed it as "far- fetched" that anybody would take "this foolish option."
But, "we would use all our means to defend ourselves because territorial integrity is a key issue for every country," he told a news conference.
He did not elaborate. Iran has previously threatened to hit U.S. regional interests if the United States launches a military strike against the Islamic Republic.
The world's fourth-largest crude producer, which rejects Western accusations it is seeking to develop nuclear bombs, has also said it will not rule out using oil as a weapon if attacked.
Analysts fear Iran could seek to impede traffic through the Strait of Hormuz in any retaliation by threatening merchant shipping. U.S. naval chiefs are concerned that Iran could resort to mining the strait and the wider Gulf in a major conflict.
The strategic sea channel which shares Iran's coastline at the entrance to the Gulf is a choke point because of the huge volume of oil exported through it daily.
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said on Tuesday comments by French government officials talking about the possibility of war over Iran's nuclear programme were intended for the media and should not be taken seriously.
Western nations fear Iran is seeking to build atomic bombs despite Tehran's denials. The United States insists it wants diplomacy to end the row but has not ruled out military action should such a route fail.
French Prime Minister Francois Fillon said on Monday everything must be done to avoid war with Iran, a day after Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner said Paris should prepare for that possibility though he did not think any war was imminent.
Kouchner's comments prompted major powers including the United States to say they believed the nuclear standoff could be resolved diplomatically.
French Defence Minister Herve Morin said on Wednesday France had no plan to attack Iran
"No one can think for one instant that we are imagining and preparing plans against Iran," he told Canal Plus television.
Did anyone really think that war was 'immanent' against Iraq when George Bush took office? No. It was not even a thought in minds of most Americans.
The Iraq war was manufactured through a magic show on the grand scale. Therefore, We the American People should TRUST that our own government WILL manufacture wars for economic ends.
All that the American people should TRUST is that the politicians bought and paid for by the wealthy business men in the private sector WILL STRIKE any nation deemed economically profitable. This is the only LOGICAL CONCLUSION the American people can come to.
I TRUST a snake to act like a snake. I TRUST a LION to act like a lion. I TRUST a wolf to act like a worlf. I TRUST a politician to act like a politician. I trust the Federal Reserve Bank to prink counterfit notes under the guise of dollar bills.
Iran is within its rights to not only maintain a military force, but to hold and use nuclear weapons of mass destruction.
There are no rules. There are no peace treaties. There are no conventions. ALL IS FAIR IN LOVE AND WAR! Iran has as much 'RIGHT' to hold nuclear weapons as any other nation. For the truth of the matter is that it is yet unclear that ANY NATION has the 'RIGHT' to hold nuclear weapons -- or any other weapons for that matter.
If there ever were a manufactured attack against IRAN, IRAN would be within its 'RIGHT' to annihilate the west. If IRAN is attacked by the United States, there will be a World War. You can TRUST in that.
Iran draws up plans to bomb Israel By ALI AKBAR DAREINI, Associated Press Writer
34 minutes ago
TEHRAN, Iran - The deputy commander of Iran's air force said Wednesday that plans have been drawn up to bomb Israel if the Jewish state attacks Iran, according to the semiofficial Fars news agency.
The announcement came amid rising tensions in the region, with the United States calling for a new round of U.N. sanctions against Iran over its disputed nuclear program and ISRAELI PLANES HAVING RECENTLY OVERFLOWN, AND PERHAPS EVEN ATTACKED, IRANIAN ALLY SYRIA.
On Sunday, French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner said the international community should prepare for the possibility of war in the event that Iran obtains atomic weapons, although he later appeared to soften that statement.
"We have drawn up a plan to strike back at Israel with our bombers if this regime (Israel) makes a silly mistake," Gen. Mohammad Alavi was quoted as telling Fars in an interview.
Fars confirmed the quotes when contacted by The Associated Press, but would not provide a tape of the interview. The Iranian air force had no immediate comment.
Defense Minister Mostafa Mohammed Najjar told the official IRNA news agency Wednesday that "we keep various options open to respond to threats. ... We will make use of them if required."
Iran's elite Revolutionary Guards released a statement that the nation was ready for a military confrontation.
"Iran, having passed through crises ... has prepared its people for a possible confrontation against any aggression," IRNA quoted the statement as saying.
White House press secretary Dana Perino called Alavi's comment "unhelpful."
"It is not constructive and it almost seems provocative," she said. "Israel doesn't seek a war with its neighbors. And we all are seeking, under the U.N. Security Council resolutions, for Iran to comply with its obligations."
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said the United States is committed to diplomacy. But she said "it can't be business as usual" with a country whose president has spoken of wiping Israel off the map.
For diplomacy to work, Rice said during a visit to Jerusalem, "it has to have both a way for Iran to pursue a peaceful resolution of this issue and it has to have teeth, and the U.N. Security Council and other measures are providing teeth."
Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Mark Regev said, "Unfortunately we are all too accustomed to this kind of bellicose, extremist and hateful language coming from Iran."
"We take the threat very seriously and so does the international community," he added.
Iran has said in the past that Israel would be Iran's first retaliatory target if attacked by the United States, but Alavi's comments were the first word of specific contingency plans for striking back on Israel.
Many in the region fear Israel could launch airstrikes on Iranian nuclear facilities to prevent it from building a nuclear weapon.
Alavi also warned that Israel was within Iran's medium-range missiles and its fighter bombers, while maintaining that Israel was not strong enough to launch an aerial attack against Iran.
"The whole territory of this regime is within the range of our missiles. Moreover, we can attack their territory with our fighter bombers as a response to any attack," the general said.
An upgraded version of Iran's Shahab-3 missile has a range of 1,250 miles, capable of reaching Israel and carrying a nuclear warhead.
Alavi said Iran's radar bases were monitoring activities at the country's borders around the clock and boasted that it had the capability to confront U.S. cruise missiles.
"One of the issues the enemies make publicity about is their cruise missiles. Now, we possess the necessary systems to confront them," Alavi was quoted as saying.
Iran's ambassador to Kuwait said in an interview with the Kuwaiti Al-Rai newspaper that U.S. bases in the Gulf would be targeted if the country was attacked.
"Iran won't immediately strike U.S. bases in the region if it comes under a military strike. It will hit the base from which the strike against it came," Ali Jannati told the newspaper. "But I don't think the Gulf nations would allow that a strike be launched from their territory."
Kuwait has a major U.S. base, which helps supply troops in Iraq. The U.S. 5th Fleet, which patrols the Gulf, is based in Bahrain, and the U.S. forces' Central Command is based in Qatar.
A top Revolutionary Guards commander said this week that Americans could be found all around Iran and that they were legitimate Iranian targets if the U.S. takes military action.
"Today, the United States is within Iran's sight and all around our country, but it doesn't mean we have been encircled. They are encircled themselves and are within our range," Gen. Mohammed Hasan Kousehchi told IRNA, referring to U.S. units in Iraq and Afghanistan.
In Ankara, Turkey, on Wednesday, Undersecretary of State Nicholas Burns called for U.N. Security Council members and U.S. allies to help push for a third round of sanctions against Iran over its nuclear program.
Burns said Washington was "pursuing peaceful diplomacy," and urged Iran to cooperate. However, he said the "responsibility lies with Iran to choose negotiations."
"We are going ahead to try to sanction Iran again, and we hope very much to have the support of Russia and China and the other countries in the council for that," Burns said. "We have very strong support of France and Britain in this respect."
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on Tuesday signaled Moscow's opposition to a third round of sanctions, and praised a recent agreement between Iran and the International Atomic Energy Agency aimed at resolving outstanding issues.
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urged Iran to cooperate fully with the IAEA, the U.N.'s nuclear watchdog agency, and the Security Council to settle the dispute, saying the United Nations wants a peaceful solution.
Two U.N. resolutions imposing sanctions on Iran have failed to persuade the country to suspend uranium enrichment. Tehran insists the program is aimed at producing energy for civilian use but the U.S., its European allies and many others fear the program's real aim is to produce nuclear weapons.
Burns said he would host a meeting Friday with the participation of permanent members of the Security Council "to look at the elements of a third resolution."
Talks on a third U.N. resolution that would impose new sanctions on Iran were expected next week in New York, when world leaders attend the annual ministerial session of the U.N. General Assembly.
"All countries should do their best ... to sanction Iran on their own according to their laws," Burns said.
On Sunday, Kouchner said France had appealed to major companies such as oil giant Total and gas giant Gaz de France not to bid for projects in Iran. He also said France and Germany were preparing possible European Union economic sanctions against Tehran beyond existing U.N. measures.
"The whole trend is away from commercial engagement and toward sanctions whether that's Security Council sanctions or individual sanctions," Burns said. He said U.S. allies and friends Turkey, Germany, Japan, South Korea and India should consider similar actions.
Bomb in Christian Suburb East of Beirut Kills Lawmaker, 6 Others
BEIRUT, Lebanon -- In Lebanon, a powerful bomb has killed a pro-government Parliament member and six others.
Security officials say the blast occurred in a Christian suburb east of the Lebanese capital, Beirut.
The officials say the blast targeted a member of a right-wing Christian party (Antoine Ghanem).
The Voice of Lebanon radio station, which is owned by the party, also confirmed the politician's death. The identities of the others killed were not immediately known.
The attack occurred six days before the Lebanese Parliament is scheduled to meet to elect a new president in a deeply divisive vote. The lawmaker is the eighth prominent anti-Syrian figure assassinated in Lebanon since 2005.
Iran's leader: U.S. wants new opinions By ALI AKBAR DAREINI, Associated Press Writer
2 hours, 33 minutes ago
TEHRAN, Iran - President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Sunday that the American people are eager for different opinions about the world, and he is looking forward to providing them with "correct and clear information," state media reported.
The hardline Iranian leader left Sunday for New York to address the U.N. General Assembly and speak to students and teachers during a forum at Columbia University.
Tensions are high between Washington and Tehran over U.S. accusations that Iran is secretly trying to develop nuclear weapons and helping Shiite militias in Iraq that target U.S. troops — claims Iran denies.
Ahmadinejad said his visit will give Americans a chance to hear a different voice, the official IRNA news agency reported.
"The United States is a big and important country with a population of 300 million. Due to certain issues, the American people in the past years have been denied correct and clear information about global developments and are eager to hear different opinions," Ahmadinejad was quoted by IRNA as saying.
State-run television also quoted Ahmadinejad before boarding his presidential plane Sunday as saying that the General Assembly was an "important podium" to express Iran's views on regional and global issues.
He is scheduled to address the Assembly on Tuesday — his third time attending the New York meeting in three years. He is also set to speak at a Columbia University question-and-answer forum on Monday in New York.
His request to lay a wreath at ground zero, site of the World Trade Center 2001 terror attacks, was denied by city officials and condemned by politicians. After the Sept. 11 attacks, hundreds of young Iranians held a series of candlelight vigils in Tehran.
Police rejected Ahmadinejad's request, citing construction and security concerns. In an interview to air Sunday on "60 Minutes," Ahmadinejad indicated he would not press the issue but expressed disbelief that the visit would offend Americans.
Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Mohammad Ali Hosseini also appeared dismayed that the request was rejected.
"What kind of damage will the U.S. face" by Ahmadinejad visiting the site, Hosseini asked at his weekly press conference Sunday.
Columbia University President Lee Bollinger has resisted requests to cancel the event but promised to introduce the talk himself with a series of tough questions on topics including Ahmadinejad's views on the Holocaust, his call for the destruction of the state of Israel and his government's alleged support of terrorism.
Columbia canceled a planned visit by the Iranian president last year, citing security and logistical reasons. Ahmadinejad has called the Holocaust "a myth" and called for Israel to be "wiped off the map."
Hosseini said there "are efforts to cancel" the Columbia speech, but the Iranian government is continuing to pursue the program. He did not elaborate other than saying a lot of pressure was being placed on the program's sponsors.
Ahmadinejad's visit to New York is also being debated back home. Some in Iran think his trip is a publicity stint that hurts Iran's image in the world.
Political analyst Iraj Jamshidi said Ahmadinejad looks at the General Assembly as a publicity forum simply to surprise world leaders with his unpredictable rhetoric.
"The world has not welcomed Ahmadinejad's hardline approach. His previous address to the Assembly didn't resolve any of Iran's foreign policy issues. And no one expects anything better this time," he said.
Independent Iranian analysts also criticized Ahmadinejad for making the trip, saying his anti-Western rhetoric makes life for Iran more difficult.
"Many experts believe Ahmadinejad's previous two visits brought no achievement ... rather, it heightened tensions," the reformist daily Etemad-e-Melli, or National Confidence, said in an editorial Sunday.
But conservative lawmaker Alaeddin Boroujerdi said it was a good chance for Iran to air its position.
"This trip gives the president a good chance to meet world leaders and inform them of Iran's rightful position," IRNA quoted Boroujerdi as saying.
Tensions between the U.S. and Iran were heightened in recent days after U.S. forces detained an Iranian official in northern Iraq.
Washington has said it is addressing the Iran situation diplomatically, rather than militarily, but U.S. officials also say that all options are open. The commander of the U.S. military forces in the Middle East said he does not believe tension will lead to war.
"This constant drum beat of conflict is what strikes me, which is not helpful and not useful," Adm. William Fallon, head of U.S. Central Command, told Al-Jazeera television, which made a partial transcript available Sunday.
I'm so thrilled that our controllers now deliver messages to the American people through two of their operatives.
The Iranian leader who has been identified as possessing a "nuclear threat" to the West and the mastermind of the 911 "terrorist attack" upon American, bin Laden.
Together with Bush, Jr., Cheney and all the other "evil" and brutal dictators, I get the sense that America is being placed under the leadership/control of "Middle East" terrorists and leaders.
Ahmadinejad says Iran, U.S. not headed for war: CBS 1 hour, 31 minutes ago
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Iran did not need nuclear weapons and his country was not heading for war with the United States, according to a television interview to be broadcast Sunday.
Asked whether Iran's goal was to obtain a nuclear bomb, he said the answer was a "firm no," according to a transcript of his interview with CBS' "60 Minutes" recorded on Thursday in Tehran.
"You have to appreciate we don't need a nuclear bomb. We don't need that. What need do we have for a bomb?" he said.
The United States accuses Iran of seeking to develop nuclear weapons under the cover of its civil nuclear program. Iran denies both allegations.
Asked whether Iran and the United States were heading toward conflict over Tehran's nuclear ambitions, he said: "It's wrong to think that Iran and the U.S. are walking toward war. Who says so? Why should we go to war? There is no war in the offing."
Officials of the five permanent U.N. Security Council members and Germany met on Friday for what they called "serious and constructive" talks about new U.N. Security Council sanctions aimed at trying to force Iran to halt its uranium enrichment activities.
Ahmadinejad, who was due to arrive in New York on Sunday for the U.N. General Assembly, reiterated Iran's position that its nuclear program is purely peaceful.
"Our plan and program is very transparent," he said. "In political relations right now, the nuclear bomb is of no use. If it was useful, it would have prevented the downfall of the Soviet Union. If it was useful, it would resolved the problem the Americans have in Iraq.