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Foreign Minister confirms al-Qaeda bombing threats against Iran

Iran's Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi on Monday confirmed bombing threats made by al-Qaeda against Iran to avenge what has been rumored as Tehran having given tips to capture former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, IRNA reported from Tehran.

"Iran has always been a victim of terrorism, especially posed by al-Qaeda," he told reporters here on the fringes of an international conference on the challenges facing the Islamic world.

Kharrazi said the Islamic Republic 'will take any necessary step to protect the country's security'.

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.

"Saddam, with his actions and aggression, trampled the rights of the Iraqi, Iranian and Kuwaiti nations," Kharrazi said, referring to the 1990 invasion of the tiny sheikdom, which led to the first Persian Gulf war of 1991.

The Iranian foreign minister said it was up to the Iraqi people to decide how and where to try Saddam for his crimes against humanity.

Asked to comment on a protocol which Iran signed recently to open its nuclear sites to unannounced inspections of UN inspectors, Kharrazi said, "Iran has fulfilled its commitments over joining the Additional Protocol and honoring it; it is now the European countries' turn to live to their commitments."

Iran apparently received assurances from Europe during the visit of British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw and his French and German counterparts Dominique de Villepin and Joschka Fischer to Tehran in October that prompted the country to sign up to an unfettered inspections of its nuclear facilities.

Tehran is under a de facto nuclear embargo, which bans the sale of nuclear know-how, including goods with double use, to the Islamic Republic.

On Sunday, Iran sent a veiled warning to Europe to meet its pledges towards Tehran.

"The Islamic Republic has not given any body a signed blank check; like what we did, the global community, especially Europe, must take steps for necessary facilities for Iran's legitimate use (of the nuclear technology)," Foreign Ministry spokesman said at a weekly news briefing.


Kharrazi also renewed Iran's denunciation of unilateral US sanctions against the Islamic Republic as well as Washington's free-wheeling policies regarding international terrorism.

"Sanctions are not effective tools against countries; they are politically-motivated," he said, adding "America is acting in a discriminatory fashion in dealing with world countries". "America believes in the policy of 'you are either with us or against us'. This is a wrong policy.

"America must respect the beliefs, expediency and national interests of all countries in order to take steps for more cooperation (of world countries)," he added.

Kharrazi also poured scorn at a decision taken by the French government to ban Muslim girls from wearing hijab at school. "Hijab is the symbol of women's chastity; any prevention in this regard amounts to ignoring human rights," he said.

"It is surprising that Europe, which boasts of respecting human rights, is resisting hijab as the primary right of Muslim women," Kharrazi added.

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

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