Monday, January 02, 2006

Iran Threatens 'Crushing' Response If Attacked

Newsmax | January 2 2006

TEHRAN -- Iran warned Sunday of a "crushing" response if its nuclear and military facilities are attacked by the United States or Israel.

Top nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani said, however, talk of such an attack most likely is "psychological warfare."

"Iran has prepared itself...they will get a crushing response if they make such a mistake," Larijani said on Iranian television late Sunday.

Larijani said Israel would "suffer greatly" if it launched an attack.

"If there is any truth in such talks, Israel will suffer greatly. It's a very small country within our range."

"Our (defense) preparedness is a deterrence," he said.

He also said a Russian proposal the two countries enrich uranium on Russian territory could not ignore Iran's right to carry out enrichment at home.

"It's not logical for a country to put the fate of its nation at the disposal of another country, even if it's a friend. You can meet part of your fuel needs from abroad."

"But is there a guarantee that nuclear fuel producers won't play with you over price or other things? History and experience show that if you don't have technology, you will damage your independence," he said.

Larijani's remarks coincided with Tehran's announcement it had produced equipment for separating uranium from its ore, a fresh development in Tehran's drive to control the whole nuclear fuel cycle - from mining uranium to enriching it for use in atomic reactors.

European news media have indicated in recent days the United States is preparing its allies for a strike against Iran's nuclear and military facilities with the aim of curtailing Iran's nuclear program.

Reports of a strike escalated after comments by Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad who called Israel a "disgraceful blot" that should be "wiped off the map" and his call to relocate Israel to Europe or North America.

Recent visits to Turkey by CIA Director Porter Goss, head of the FBI, NATO General Secretary Jaap De Hoop Scheffer and U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice have increased speculation about a possible military strike against Iran. NATO member Turkey is Iran's northwestern neighbour.

President George W. Bush has said his administration would not exclude the possibility of using military force against Iran over its nuclear program, which the United States believes is aimed at producing weapons.

Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Seymour Hersh reported in the New Yorker magazine in Janurary last year the Bush administration had been "conducting secret reconnaissance missions inside Iran" to gather intelligence and targeting information. U.S. Defence Department officials said the article was filled with mistakes but did not deny its basic point.

Israel fears Iran is reaching a point of no return in nuclear technology. Iran has openly said it has already achieved proficiency in cycle of nuclear fuel, a technology that can be used to produce fuel for reactors to generate electricity or materials for a bomb.

The United States and European Union have backed a Russian proposal to move Iran's uranium-enrichment program to Russian territory. The proposal aims to ensure Iran cannot use uranium enrichment to build nuclear weapons. Enrichment is a key process that can produce either fuel for a nuclear reactor or the material for a warhead.

Larijani said Iran needs talks with Moscow to clarify what he described as "ambiguities" but said the proposal can't deny Iran uranium enrichment at home.

"The proposal is too general. If it talks about denying Iran of its rights, no. We have no right to do it," he said.

"But we have to study it and see if Iran's interests can be met. It can be a complimentary."

"There is no reason to reject it before discussions and accurate study," he said.

Larijani is secretary of the Supreme National Security Council, Iran's top security decision-making body that handles Iran's nuclear talks.

He said the Russian proposal will have nothing to do with nuclear talks among Iran and Britain, France and Germany. The talks last month made little progress and are to continue later this month.


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