Iran News ...


12/22/03

Iran's President laughs off Israeli threat to hit nuclear facilities

President Mohammad Khatami on Monday brushed aside speculation about a likely US attack against Iran and Syria, while he laughed off Israeli defense minister's revelation about the Zionist regime's plan to destroy Tehran's nuclear capabilities, IRNA reported from Tehran.

"He made a damn mistake," the Iranian president retorted with a smile, when asked to comment on the statements made by Shaul Mofaz who had been cited as saying that 'the necessary steps will be taken if a decision is made to destroy Iran's nuclear capability'.

Khatami also said, "America is not in a position to materialize its threats against Iran and Syria.

"If America manages to pull out safe from the storm which it has started in Iraq, it will be acknowledged as having done a great job," he added.

Khatami described relations between Tehran and Damascus as 'very good', playing down the US and Israeli threats against them. "There have always been threats against these two countries. But we must remain together and not give any pretext to them."

Iran has been demonized under the Bush administration, while Syria has been slapped with new series of unilateral American sanctions.

AMNESTY FOR MKO MEMBERS

Khatami renewed Iran's proposal to members of the Iraq-based terrorist Mojahedin Khalq Organization (MKO) to return home, saying those without blood on their hands would be dealt with leniently.

"The majority who did not commit a crime and do not have blood on their hands are like our children and we must treat them with leniency and mercy," he said.

"Those who have committed crimes will be given a fair trial and we do not want any thing more than this," he told reporters on the sidelines of an international conference here.

US overseer in Iraq, Paul Bremer, has indicated that MKO members would be expelled to third countries rather than Iran, opposing an Iraqi Governing Council member Nurredin Dara, who proposed handing them over to Iran.

The group is responsible for many terrorist attacks against civilians and officials inside Iran, plotted from their bases in Iraq.

Khatami hoped occupation forces in Iraq would transfer power to its people, saying 'with the pullout of the occupiers and handing over of affairs to Iraqis, we will have a powerful Iraq with high culture in the region'.

Tehran is still reeling from a destructive war between 1980 and 1988, imposed under Saddam and marked by the Baath regime blatantly using chemical and biological weapons against Iranians as well as the Iraqi Kurds.

Khatami said, "I predict a good future for Iraq, given the record, good qualities and awareness of the Iraqi people. "We hope the future Iraq will be beneficial for the region," he added.

Shamkhani: Israel will 'pay dearly' if it attacks nuclear plants

Defense Minister Rear-Admiral Ali Shamkhani warned Israel against any plan to attack Iran's nuclear facilities, saying the Zionist regime 'will pay a heavy price' if it does so.

The statements came in response to his opposite number in Israel, Shaul Mofaz, who has been cited as saying the Zionist regime was considering a plan to destroy Tehran's nuclear capabilities.

"The Zionist regime's minister of war must understand this fact that no place will be safe for the rulers of this regime if they realize their threats against our country," Shamkhani told IRNA here.

The Haaretz daily cited Mofaz as telling Israel radio's Persian service last week that 'the necessary steps will be taken if a decision is made to destroy Iran's nuclear capability'.

Shamkhani said, "As we have repeatedly announced, we will confront firmly and strongly any threat which may seek to challenge our national security and interests."

"Although Mofaz's statements were rapidly corrected by the Zionist regime's radio, such threats are generally unrealistic and very unlikely, given that regime's estimation of Iran's capability of a response," he added.

President Mohammad Khatami laughed off earlier Monday Israeli defense minister's revelation about the Zionist regime's plan to destroy Tehran's nuclear capabilities.

"He made a damn mistake," the Iranian president retorted with a smile, when asked to comment on the statements made by Mofaz.

Rafsanjani vows Iran's strong response to Israeli threats

Chairman of the Expediency Council (EC) Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani on Sunday played down the recent Israeli threats to attack Iran, stressing that Iran's response would be very strong, IRNA reported from Tehran.

Rafsanjani, in an interview with the Saudi daily 'Al-Riyadh', said Israel's attacks would bear no result, and vowed that the Islamic Republic would strongly respond to any possible Israeli blitz.

"If Israel takes an 'unwise' measure to attack Iran, it will not be able to do an important thing, and will receive a response that would make it regret what it has done," he said.

Rafsanjani's remarks follow those by Israeli Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz on Sunday that Israel may take military action to destroy Iran's nuclear facilities.

... Payvand News - 12/22/03 ... --



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