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Iranian Leaders Shrug Off International Pressure

The president and security chief of Iran belittle the ability of the international community to force their regime to curb its development of nuclear capabilities.
By Nissan Ratzlav-Katz
First Publish: 12/22/2006, 9:17 AM / Last Update: 12/21/2006, 6:38 PM

"America and some European countries know well that they are incapable of doing anything against the Iranian nation," the president of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, asserted during a speech he delivered in the western part of his country this week. "The bullying powers are also afraid that the Iranian nation's progress will raise the expectations of other nations, pushing them to stand up to these powers," he added.

The General Secretary of Iran's Supreme National Security Council (SNSC), Ali Larijani, said on Thursday that any sanctions resulting from a planned UN resolution against the country's nuclear program will not have the desired effect. Speaking to reporters after his meeting with Pakistani Foreign Minister Khurshid Kasuri, Larijani said, "The nature of this resolution is not capable of pressuring Iran, and Iran will give an appropriate response to it."

While no UN Security Council resolution will slow Iran's progress in its race to produce nuclear energy, Larijani declared, it would surely impact its cooperation with the UN's International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). He did not detail what effect he had in mind.

Eleven days ago, Ahmadinejad announced that Iran had expanded production in its national uranium enrichment program by adding 3,000 centrifuges at a facility in the center of the country. Mossad intelligence organization chief Meir Dagan told the Knesset defense committee this week that Iran plans to add another 3,000 centrifuges within the coming year. Security analysts have said that Iran needs approximately 30,000 centrifuges to produce weapons-grade nuclear material.

Russia and China have blocked what some call half-hearted attempts by Britain, France and Germany in the United Nations Security Council to impose sanctions on Iran.

Israel's Position
In an interview with the German newspaper Der Spiegel on December 10, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said he expected "graver measures" to be taken to block Iran's ability to carry out its threats against Israel. Olmert urged the international community to impose the sanctions it promised months ago, when Iran ignored an August 31 deadline to end its uranium enrichment program.

When asked if he would rule out a military strike against Iran, the Prime Minister said flatly, "I rule nothing out."

Four days earlier, Minister for Strategic Affairs Avigdor Lieberman told reporters that he sees Israel's primary task at this point is "to convince Western countries to adopt a tough approach" to the Iranian regime. In his view, dialogue with Iran "will be a 100% failure." Terming the Persian regime "the biggest threat facing the Jewish people since the Second World War," Lieberman added, "We must also be prepared to deal alone with this problem."

On Tuesday, Opposition leader Binyamin Netanyahu warned foreign ambassadors in Tel Aviv that Ahmadinejad is planning to carry out a genocide of the Jews using the nuclear weapons Iranian scientists are now building. Netanyahu said, "[We] only have three years to stop the Iranian nuclear program - but that's 1,000 days, and enough time to do the job." He compared Iran to Nazi Germany of 1938, but said that, "This time, we know the dangers."

In addition to its activity on the nuclear front, Iran is believed to have sent thousands of its Revolutionary Guards to Iraq to help set up Shi'ite death squads, according to a report issued by Washington-based Saudi Arabian consultant Nawaf Obaid. An aide to the recently departed Saudi ambassador to the US, Obaid claimed that Saudi Arabia would intervene in Iraq on behalf of Sunni Muslims if the US withdraws in the near future.

Iranian Elections
In elections held last week for Iranian municipal councils, Ahmadinejad's political opponents scored significant successes.

Final results released by the Iranian Interior Ministry show that moderate conservatives and reformists won most of the nation's regional government seats. Even in Tehran, where Ahmadinejad originally made his jump to national power, moderate conservatives allied with a rival of the Iranian president secured a majority of the council's 15 seats.