French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner said today
“We have to prepare for the worst, and the worst is war,” he said in an interview broadcast on French television and radio.”We must negotiate right to the end,” with Iran, he said, but underlined that if Tehran possessed an atomic weapon, it would represent “a real danger for the whole world.”Calling the nuclear standoff “the greatest crisis” of present times, the minister said: “We will not accept that the bomb is manufactured,” and hinted that military plans were on the way.”We are trying to put in place plans which are the privilege of chiefs of staff and that is not for tomorrow,” he said but stressed that although any attack on Iran was far from taking place, “It is normal for us to plan” for any eventuality.
Wow that doesn’t sound like the France I know. But they are probably reacting to the fact that over the last few months Iran’s crazy President Ahmadinejad has been getting crazier. His threats bolder and his stand against ramping down his nuclear programs more strident. This report from MEMRI details how Ahmadinejad has been escalating the rhetoric this summer.
Escalation in the Positions of Iranian President Ahmadinejad– Special Report By: Y. Mansharof and A. Savyon Introduction In several recent speeches, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad outlined Iran’s nuclear policy and set forth his vision regarding the interrelationship between Iran and the West. In a speech about Iran’s nuclear program, Ahmadinejad declared that Iran has become a global power, and that it would place its nuclear technology at the service of those determined to confront the U.S. and other Western countries. He announced that Iran was now successfully operating over 3,000 centrifuges, continued to downplay the impact of the U.N. Security Council sanctions on Iran, and reiterated Iran’s official stance of refusal to freeze its nuclear activity. Ahmadinejad also harshly censured senior Iranian officials who had called for compromise with the West on Iran’s nuclear program out of fear of a possible U.S. attack on Iran, hinting that they were traitors. In addition, Ahmadinejad declared that today, the world was at an historic turning point. The history of the West, he said, had reached its end, and the appearance of the Hidden Imam, heralding the era of Islamic Shi’ite rule, was nigh.(1) Thus, he called on the nations of the world to rise up against the hegemony of the West, headed by the U.S., and predicted the imminent collapse of Israel, which he called “Satan’s standard-bearer.” (2) Following are statements by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on various issues, from his recent speeches: Iran’s Nuclear Program On several occasions, Ahmadinejad stressed that Iran would continue developing its nuclear program regardless of the sanctions. He noted that the sanctions were having no impact on progress in “the irreversible path of the nuclearization of the Iranian nation”(3) and denied Western reports of a slowdown in Iran’s nuclear enrichment. Ahmadinejad further promised to place Iran’s nuclear technology “at the service of those who are determined to confront the bullying powers and aggressors [i.e., the Western countries, headed by the U.S.]…”(4) In a recent conference of Revolutionary Guards commanders, he also stated that “some violent powers [i.e., the West, headed by the U.S.] are now officially declaring that they want to cooperate with the Iranian nation, and that they acknowledge Iran’s [status] as a regional power. However, they must know that Iran is a global power.”(5) In a report submitted in late August 2007 to the to the IAEA Council of Governors, IAEA Director-General Muhammad El-Baredei stated that as of August 19, 2007, Iran had 1,968 centrifuges at the Natanz facility, into which UF6 gas had been injected. However, in early September, 2007, Ahmadinejad stated: “When we opened [the UCF] at Isfahan, they [i.e. the West, headed by the U.S.] threatened military action [against us]. But now, we are operating over 3,000 centrifuges, and every week [another] new [centrifuge] system is installed… They have not managed to do anything against [our] united and steadfast nation.”(6) He added, “They thought they could, via each of the sanctions resolutions that they issued, make the Iranian nation withdraw – but after each resolution, the Iranian nation showed additional progress [in its nuclear] program.”(7) On another occasion, Ahmadinejad harshly condemned senior Iranian officials who had in recent months called for compromise with the West: “With regard to obtaining nuclear technology for peaceful purposes, unreliable individuals have spoken of compromising… No one would believe it if I mentioned the names of these individuals, who in several meetings spoke of the need for compromise, enumerating the enemy’s strong points, and [raising the possibility that the West could launch] an all-out war… We have experienced days when we were pressured from a hundred different directions from within [Iran] to withdraw [and halt uranium enrichment]… But I said that I was willing to guarantee them that it was impossible for [the U.S.] to launch a war against us…”(8) Ahmadinejad went on to explain: “At some meetings, I told these friends that I was an engineer, and that I had analyzed the problems and presented proof, [and thus] I told them that the enemies do not have the courage to launch a war against us. Some doubted my words, but I presented them with two [pieces of] evidence. First, I told them, I am an engineer, I am deliberate, I make tables and write and examine hypotheses for hours. I present proof and put together plans based on it, and that is how I proceed. They [the U.S.] cannot pose a problem to Iran. They are stuck in Iraq and Afghanistan, and they have problems there, and lack the ability [to act against Iran]. As further proof, I told them that I believe in the word of God. God said that those who act properly will triumph. Iran’s Leader [Ali Khamenei] and the Iranian nation are steadfast in, attentive to, and agree with the word of God…” (9) Ahmadinejad added, “I have documents [to prove] that some people, who [are supported by] newspapers that do nothing but malign [the government] on a daily basis, made every effort to ensure that sanctions were issued against Iran. They used to provide [the West] with the latest updates [about Iran’s nuclear program], and urged it to exert as much pressure as possible [on the Iranian government]. It was not one or two people, but at least eight or ten, and now these people are turning to the Gulf states and telling them not to cooperate with the Iranian government.”(10) In his speech to the Revolutionary Guards commanders, Ahmadinejad said, in a similar vein, “Unfortunately, some elements [in Iran] have encouraged some of the violent powers to increase the pressures on Iran.”(11) In a press conference during his visit to Azerbaijan on August 21-22, 2007, Ahmadinejad said that the West’s attempts to stop Iran’s nuclear program had been in vain, and that Iran has not changed its policy: “Thanks to the determined stance of the Iranian nation, which stood united in defense of its right [to nuclear technology], Iran’s enemies have not succeeded in preventing its progress, and in imposing their positions upon it, for Iran has [now] achieved a full nuclear fuel cycle… [The Western countries] know very well that their actions have no effect [on Iran], and that they will [eventually] be compelled to acknowledge its right [to develop this technology]… If these aggressive countries pay no heed to our friendly advice, their prestige in the world will suffer, and their situation will be more difficult… “When I visited Baku last year, Iran was only at the half-way point on the winding and difficult path [to nuclear technology]. But today, with God’s grace and thanks to the determined stand and resistance of the Iranian people, Iran has seen this narrow and difficult path to its end… and nobody can now stop the progress of the Iranian nation [in the area of nuclear technology]. “There are counties whose attainment of nuclear technology did not bring about any change in the world. Iran’s nuclearization, on the other hand, is the beginning of a very great change in the world, since its nuclear activities are in the service of peace, justice and welfare for all the [world’s] countries… You [i.e., the Western states] used the language of force and failed to realize [the greatness] of the Iranian nation. You thought that if you increased the pressures [i.e., the sanctions] on Iran, the Iranian nation would withdraw [from its position]… I said to these countries: You are wrong, and you are making fools of yourselves – for you are unable to harm Iran in the slightest…”(12) In an August 28, 2007 press conference at the presidential palace, Ahmadinejad said further: “As for the reports about [Iran] slowing down or accelerating its nuclear program, most of them are not grounded in reality. We are working to [enrich uranium]. This is a technical process, and any acceleration or deceleration [of the activities] has to do with technical circumstances and capabilities. Political decisions play no part in this… I hereby officially announce that, as far as Iran is concerned, the nuclear issue is closed. Those who thought they could stop the Iranian nation through discriminatory political moves [i.e., the sanctions], and by abusing their [power] in the international decision-making bodies, now realize that the path they took was wrong…”(13) The Return of the Mahdi is Imminent; the West’s Hegemony Has Come to an End In his speech at the annual conference on the doctrine of Mahdism, held in Tehran on August 25-26, Ahmadinejad stated that Western dominance has come to an end, and called upon the nations of the world to rebel “against the oppressive imperialist powers” in preparation for the coming of the Hidden Imam: “The Hidden Imam is heir to everything that has been good and beautiful throughout history, and the call [to await his coming] is a call [to have faith] in the missions of the divine prophets, in monotheism and in justice… These days, humanity is pining for monotheism and justice. With God’s grace, the [preparations] for a flood of compassion, truth and justice will soon be complete… “The message of Mahdism, which calls [to believe] in the savior [i.e., the Hidden Imam], brings hope and joy to people [throughout the world]. [It is] a message of steadfastness and patience and of resisting the oppressors [i.e., the West, headed by America]; it is a message of submission [to God] and the pursuit of justice and honor. The current situation in the world has led the nations to reject in disgust the rule of the oppressors. Now is the time to invite people to accept the rule of the righteous, and [especially that] of the most righteous of [rulers] – the Hidden Imam… “Today’s imperialist forces give humanity nothing by forcing wars [upon it], plundering its resources, violating [human] rights, issuing threats, trampling human dignity and [spreading] corruption, vice and insecurity… The oppressors and tyrants are responsible for all the difficulties and problems currently faced by the nations, and the only way to establish justice is through popular uprising and determined resistance in the face of these oppressors… “[The day] of these aggressors… who are oppressing and controlling the nations, is now coming to an end. Those who [seek to] distract the people with a materialistic philosophy of one kind or another, and who pursue materialism, have brought humanity nothing but despair and deception… The time of the righteous rulers will come, and the most righteous [of rulers, [i.e., the Hidden Imam], will form a government and thereby instate the monotheism of Abraham [throughout the world]. That day is not far away… “Our enemies naturally feel threatened by the call to [believe in] the Mahdi, for they do not want people to thinks about justice. But our reply to them is that the era of the aggressive [powers] has come to an end. We believe that it is time for the righteous to rule, and for humanity to be properly [re]born out of love, knowledge and spirituality.”(14) In his speech at the opening of the fourth World Assembly of the Ahl Al-Beit Foundation, held in Tehran in August 18-19, 2007, Ahmadinejad said:(15) “Today we must prepare ourselves to carry out the responsibility [placed] upon us… which transcends the [boundaries of the] Muslim world… Islam is the truth. This truth was only partly revealed in Judaism and Christianity, but is fully revealed in Islam… Today, as ever, the world needs the Hidden Imam, [for] it is suffering under the yoke of dishonest [rulers]… Our mission transcends the geographical boundaries of the Muslim [world]. Our clerics have a responsibility to call upon humanity as a whole to [embrace] the [true] monotheism and the rule of monotheistic principles.”(16) In an August 28, 2007 speech Ahmadinejad added that “the current problems faced by the world result from [the rule] of unworthy rulers. The ultimate solution is to replace these unworthy regimes and rulers, and to establish the rule of the Hidden Imam…”(17) Those who are not versed in [the doctrine of Mahdism] believe that the return [of the Hidden Imam] will occur only in a very long time, but, according to the divine promise, [his return] is imminent…”(18) On August 29, 2007, Ahmadinejad said, “The Iranian nation and the Islamic Revolution have a pivotal role in preparing the ground for the coming of the Hidden Imam… We must rapidly develop Iran in order to create the [right] conditions for his coming, and we must also help the rest of the world’s nations [to prepare for his return], in order to precipitate this great event…”(19) “The responsibility that currently rests on Iran’s [shoulders] is very heavy; it is the kind of mission that the divine prophets [were entrusted with]. It does not permit us to rest or slumber even for a moment. Have you ever seen a prophet take a rest from the fulfillment of his mission?…”(20) Israel Has No Right to Exist; Its Collapse is Imminent Ahmadinejad’s recent speeches were also characterized by statements against the Zionists and against Israel, which he called “Satan’s standard-bearer:”(21) In his August 28, 2007 press conference, the Iranian president said: “[The Zionists] have no religion, for religion means having faith in others and maintaining friendly [relations] with [other] nations. But everywhere they exist there is war. They are responsible for a lot of the injustice in the world. The Zionists are a minority which numbers no more than a few tens of thousands, but they have formed clandestine organizations, because they do not want peace and friendship to prevail among the nations… They thrive on war and hatred. If peace [ever] prevails in the world, the people of the world will eradicate Zionism. If the [European] nations could act [freely], they would have thrown them out of Europe.”(22) In his speech at the Ahl Al-Beit assembly, Ahmadinejad said: “You also saw the outcome of the 33-day war in Lebanon [in the summer of 2006], and how Hizbullah stood fast against the Zionist regime. Can such a regime [conceivably] last? A regime whose entire philosophy and existence are founded upon lies is bound to collapse… The extent of the world superpowers’ defeat is reflected in the extent to which their ideology and reasoning have failed… [Israel] is the standard-bearer of aggression, occupation and discrimination in the world. Considering all that, [how] can this regime [possibly] last?”(23) In line with his view of Israel as a foreign body in the region, Ahmadinejad said, in a September 4, 2007 meeting with the deposed Palestinian foreign minister, Ziad Abu ‘Amru: “The only way out of the crisis is through armed resistance by a united Palestinian nation, with determination and faith in God… It would be naïve of us to believe that America and certain European countries might take steps to help the Palestinian people – for the Zionist regime is their representative, and is flesh of their flesh… The Palestinian nation is now invincible… The Iranian nation and government believe in the Palestinian cause, and are interested in its attainment. [They] will continue to stand by the Palestinian people…”(24) On the Situation in Iraq In line with his view that the Western hegemony is coming to an end, Ahmadinejad stated that the depth of the West’s defeat mirrors the depth of its ideological defeat. He predicted that the Coalition forces will soon be forced to withdraw from Iraq, and declared that Iran will be willing to fill the vacuum.(25) In his speech at the Ahl Al-Beit assembly, he said: “The hegemony of America and its allies in IraqAmerica] mirrors [the depth of] their ideological defeat… has been shattered, and [the Americans] have suffered a historic defeat. The depth of the [military] defeat [suffered by] the Global Arrogance [i.e., The world is now at a historic turning point. This is apparent from the briefest glance at the global balance of power, which is rapidly tilting towards truth and away from falsehood… America and its allies in Iraq are now sinking in a quagmire, from which they… can only escape at great cost…”(26) On another occasion, the president said that “the aggressors have become entangled in Iraq. They attribute no importance to Iraqi lives… I hereby announce loud and clear that the occupier’s political forces are facing defeat in Iraq… [and] we will soon see a serious leadership-vacuum in the region. I hereby announce that Iran is willing to fill this vacuum with the help of its neighbors and friends in the region, including Saudi Arabia. With the help of the Iraqi people, we will fill this vacuum. This is already happening; we must open our eyes to see it… “I advise the aggressors to stop their stubbornness and selfishness… Even if you stay in Iraq for another 50 years, conditions will not only fail to improve, they will even deteriorate… Iraq, in the present circumstances, is [just] another example of the corrupt rule of the superpowers… We have announced [in the past] that we are willing to extricate you from the Iraqi quagmire, but if you choose to stay there, you are welcome to do so!… Wait a few months, and [you will see] that under pressure, the [Al-Maliki] government will be defeated…”(27) On Renewing Relations with Egypt On August 28, 2007, Ahmadinejad reiterated that Iran is willing to renew relations with Egypt,(28) and added that, as two dominant forces in the region, both countries will benefit from this. “Iran and Egypt are both great and civilized nations, which [maintain] ties of mutual friendship. The truth is that the Egyptian nation is clearly interested in [relations] with Iran, and the Iranian nation is interested in [relations] with Egypt. The two countries have many distinctive characteristics in common, such as a unique and ancient culture. Furthermore, both have significant influence on regional and global issues, and therefore, friendship between them will benefit the Muslim countries and the world [at large]. “[During my visit] to the UAE [in May 2007], I announced that, if Egypt declares its willingness to renew the relations [with Iran], we will promptly send an ambassador [to Cairo]. The deputy foreign ministers of the two countries are due to meet [in order to discuss this issue], and this will be followed by a meeting between the foreign ministers [themselves] in order to lay down the foundation for [renewing] the relations. I hope that these [plans] will be realized shortly…”29 On Human Rights in Iran In the same speech, the Iranian president said that all citizens and groups in Iran enjoy complete and full freedom, and may express their opinions freely. Addressing the issue of the Iranian-American academic Dr. Haleh Esfandiari, who was recently released from an Iranian prison after being detained for over three months, he stated that her case will be decided by the Iranian judiciary.(30) * Y. Mansharof is a Research Fellow at MEMRI; A. Savyon is Director of MEMRI’s Iranian Media Project. Endnotes: (1) According to Shi’ite belief, the Twelfth Imam (known as the Mahdi, or the Hidden Imam) disappeared in 941 CE. Shi’ites are commanded to anticipate his reappearance, which will bring their redemption and the proof of the rightness of the Shi’ite belief. See MEMRI Inquiry and Analysis No. 357, “The Doctrine of Mahdism: In the Ideological and Political Philosophy of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad,” May 31, 2007, http://memri.org/bin/articles.cgi?Page=archives&Area=ia&ID=IA35707. (2) IRNA (Iran), August 18, 2007. (3) IRNA (Iran), August 25, 2007. (4) IRNA (Iran), August 21, 2007. (5) Kayhan (Iran), September 12, 2007. (6) ISNA (Iran), September 2, 2007. (7) Kayhan (Iran), September 3, 2007. (8) Aftab (Iran), September 2, 2007. (9) Etemad-e Meli (Iran), September 3, 2007. In its September 3, 2007 editorial, the reformist daily Etemad-e Meli – owned by former parliament speaker Mehdi Karroubi, who ran for president in 2005 but was forced to drop out of the race after he accused Ahmadinejad of elections fraud – stated that, with all due respect to the president’s PhD in transportation engineering, there is no guarantee that Iran will not be attacked by the U.S., and Ahmadinejad should be more realistic. Criticism of the president was also voiced in the August 19, 2007 editorial of the reformist daily Aftab-e Yazd, which condemned Ahmadinejad for failing to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin during the Shanghai Cooperation Organization conference, held in Kirgistan in mid-August 2007. The editorial stated: “Those who followed the news about the Shanghai Cooperation Organization Conference noticed the conspicuous absence of one significant report, [namely] a report about a meeting between Ahmadinejad and Putin.” In an August 28, 2007 speech, Ahmadinejad claimed that he had, in fact, met with Putin during the conference, and that Putin had promised him that Russia would complete the construction of the Bushehr reactor. However, it was later confirmed by several Iranian media sources that no meeting had taken place. (10) Rooz (Iran), September 3, 2007. According to another Rooz report, Ahmadinejad said: “More than there were Western pressures, there were pressures by cowardly circles within [Iran]… who called for a compromise. But if we had withdrawn [from our position] the pressures would not have stopped. God told us [in the Koran] that we must stand fast, and that if we give in, even in the slightest, nothing will be left of our independence… In [certain] circles, there was an official who used to pass intelligence to foreign agents, and encouraged [the West] to increase the sanctions. This individual, from a [certain] faction within the government whose papers are maligning [the government] even today, held regular meetings with [foreign agents], passed information about the disagreements [within the Iranian leadership], and opposed the issuing of [relatively] moderate sanctions against Iran. Now he has turned to the Gulf states, and, maligning the Iranian government, he has asked them not to cooperate with [Iran].” Rooz (Iran), September 3, 2007. (11) Kayhan (Iran), September 12, 2007. (12) ISNA (Iran), August 28, 2007. (13) ISNA (Iran), August 28, 2007. (14) IRNA (Iran), August 27, 2007. (15) The term “Ahl Al-Beit” refers to the lineage of Ali Ibn Abi Talib and Fatima, daughter of the Prophet Muhammad, whose descendents are regarded by the Shi’ites as the true heirs of the Prophet. The Ahl Al-Beit Foundation, founded in 1990, aims to promote the study and culture of Shi’ite Islam. Its members are religious and political figures from several Muslim countries. (16) Kayhan (Iran), August 19, 2007. (17) IRNA (Iran), August 28, 2007. (18) ISNA (Iran), August 28, 2007. (19) IRNA (Iran), August 30, 2007. (20) Aftab-e Yazd (Iran), September 3, 2007. (21) IRNA (Iran), August 18, 2007. (22) ISNA (Iran), August 28, 2007. (23) Kayhan (Iran), August 19, 2007. (24) Mehr (Iran), September 4, 2007. (25) At the central Friday prayer on August 17, 2004, Council of Experts member Ahmad Khatami said that the Arab countries should remember that, after America leaves Iraq, Iran will still be right there in the region. See MEMRI-TV clip No. 1542: http://www.memritv.org/clip/en/1542.htm. (26) Kayhan (Iran), August 19, 2007. (27) ISNA (Iran), August 28, 2007. (28) For Ahmadinejad’s statements on this topic from May 2007, and reactions to these statements, see MEMRI Inquiry & Analysis No. 364, “Dispute in Iran over Renewing Relations with Egypt,” June 15, 2007, http://memri.org/bin/articles.cgi?Page=archives&Area=ia&ID=IA36407 . (29) ISNA (Iran), August 28, 2007. (30) ISNA (Iran), August 28, 2007.