Tehran, March 7, IRNA -- President Mohammad Khatami here Thursday hoped that Iraq's disarmament would be a precursor to the disarmament of Israel as he reiterated Iran's opposition to a probable US-led attack on Baghdad despite Tehran's grievance against the regime of Saddam Hussein.
"We have a cause for complaint against Saddam's regime and the hearts of the Iranian nation will never become soft with that regime," he said in a function to commemorate a group of Iranian troops, killed during the Iraqi-imposed war of 1980-1988.
Khatami, however, stressed that "despite all the damage inflicted by this neighboring country (Iraq) on us, we are opposed to an attack or any military action against Iraq".
"Our opposition to attack Iraq does not mean (we) support the regime of Saddam," he said further.
The Iranian president also lashed out at certain western countries for selling the chemical and germ weapons technology to Iraq during its war against Iran.
"How come nobody opposed when Saddam used chemical bombs against us and now those, who used to equip Iraq with weapons of mass destruction, are talking about the Iraqi disarmament," Khatami said.
The president pointed to widespread opposition, "not only in Islamic countries but in Europe and America itself", to war and "creation of terror".
The fate of Iraq must be determined by its own people, Khatami said, adding "today, even those, who are close to America, prefer a peaceful solution of the crisis to a military action".
Tehran, despite being a staunch opponent of a military showdown in the Persian Gulf region, has adopted a position of "active neutrality" towards the crisis.
Since the 1979 Islamic Revolution, Iran has held no diplomatic relations with the US which severed its ties with Tehran after the Students Following the Line of Imam stormed the American embassy here and held its staff hostage.
"We have no war with America, nor with any other country," Khatami stressed.
NUCLEAR ENERGY ACHIEVEMENT
The Iranian president outlined the country's achievements in scientific and defense areas, including nuclear energy know-how, after the Islamic Revolution and stressed on Tehran's commitment to shun weapons of mass destruction.
"Iran is always committed to the convention on non-proliferation of nuclear arms and it will never take any step to acquire nuclear weapons," he said.
Iran is a signatory of the non-proliferation treaty, but Khatami chided the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) for failing to assist the country on acquiring the nuclear energy know-how.
"Agencies and the institutes active in the area of nuclear energy know-how are obliged to provide the member countries with necessary facilities to acquire the nuclear knowledge, but unfortunately they have not only (failed) to do so, but have been creating obstacles for us," Khatami added.
The president last month announced for the first time that Iran had started excavating uranium ore from a mine, 200 km from the central city of Yazd, to produce fuel for its nuclear plants.
In Washington, US State Department spokesman Richard Boucher was cited as alleging that 'Iran's ambitious and costly pursuit of a complete nuclear fuel cycle only makes sense if it's in support of a nuclear weapons program'.
Tehran denounced those allegations as 'groundless' and reiterated its readiness for 'dialogue with eligible organizations to remove any ambiguity'.
Khatami pointed to some of the "great work" done after the Islamic Republic. "There must be criticism to deficiencies but we should also pay attention to the achievements," he said.
These remarks follow his earlier remarks that some people tried to portray a terrible picture of the country's situation and fan out hatred.
"Today, we rule on the basis of Islam but this does not mean all the work we do is Islamic. We are humans and have many defects and our emphasis on strengthening supervisory institutes is aimed at preventing these faults," he added.
Khatami regretted "misinterpretation of freedom" in the society, saying "by freedom we ... mean people freely express their criticism".
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