Iran issues warning on nuclear program

June 25, 2008 8:02:11 AM PDT
Iran's parliament speaker warned the West on Wednesday that it may face "a done deal" if it provokes Iran, a stern hint that Tehran could build nuclear weapons if attacked. The speaker, Ali Larijani, who was once Iran's top nuclear negotiator, also warned that a "short opportunity is left" for a deal with Iran over its nuclear program, which the U.S. and some of its allies fear is aimed at producing a bomb.

Iran has long denied it intends to build a nuclear weapon, saying its program is meant only to generate electricity. Larijani, one of Iran's most powerful politicians, did not directly warn that Iran could change its intentions, but his vague comment appeared aimed at raising that possibility.

Larijani pointed to recent comments by Mohamed ElBaradei, the U.N. nuclear watchdog chief, who said in an interview last week that a military strike on Iran could turn the Mideast into a "ball of fire" and "prompt Iran, even if it didn't produce a nuclear weapon today, to resort to an emergency plan to produce a nuclear weapon."

Larijani said the West should "take Mr. ElBaradei's warnings seriously."

"Don't provoke Iran otherwise you will face a done deal that will block the path of your return to a compromise with Iran," Larijani told an open session of the parliament broadcast live on state radio Wednesday.

The phrase he used in Farsi, "amal-e anjam shodeh," means literally "an accomplished act" or "fait accompli."

The warning came on the heels of military exercises by Israel that U.S. officials said were a message to Iran.

Israel sent warplanes and other aircraft on a major exercise in the eastern Mediterranean this month in a move that may have been meant as a show of force, as well as practice for the operations needed for a long-range strike mission.

Larijani, elected parliament speaker earlier this year, was previously Iran's top nuclear negotiator with the West and he holds a seat on the powerful Supreme National Security Council. He is also close to Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

A hard-line newspaper also hinted on Wednesday that Iran may weaponize its nuclear program if attacked.

"Even if Iran's nuclear facilities are totally destroyed - a possibility that is precisely zero - it will easily be revived within a short period of time, but with the difference that it may prompt a fundamental reconsideration in intentions," the daily Kayhan said in an editorial.

A top commander of the elite Revolutionary Guards on Wednesday warned that an attack on Iran would draw the U.S. into "a new tragedy."

"If you want to move towards Iran, make sure you will bring artificial legs and walking sticks because you will not have any legs to return on should you come," the television quoted Mohammad Hejazi, a top Guards figure, as saying.

Iran has spread its nuclear facilities throughout the country and has built key portions underground to protect from possible Israeli or American airstrikes.

In 1981, Israeli jets bombed Iraq's Osirak nuclear facility in an attempt to end then-Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein's nuclear program. Last September, Israel bombed a facility in Syria that U.S. officials have said was a nuclear reactor being constructed with North Korean assistance, a claim denied by Damascus and Pyongyang.


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