Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Supreme Leader: Iranians 'Peace-Seekers' - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
Select Page

TEHRAN, Iran, AP – Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said Wednesday that if the United States attacks Iran, U.S. interests around the world would be harmed, state-run Tehran television reported.

Speaking to laborers on the occasion of the International Laborers Day, Khamenei said U.S. officials have been using threatening language against Iran for 27 years, but the Iranian nation and officials do not care about the threats.

“The Iranian nation and its officials are peace-seekers and the Islamic republic would not invade anybody,” the television quoted Khamenei as saying.

But he added: “The Americans should know that if they invade Iran, their interests around the world would be harmed. Iran will respond twofold to any attack.”

Iran is locked in a dispute with the United States and its allies over its controversial nuclear program and is facing a U.N. deadline Friday to suspend uranium enrichment activities or risk possible sanctions.

Also Wednesday, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Iran’s “enemies” would not be able to use the U.N. Security Council and the International Atomic Energy Agency to punish Iran.

“The enemies could not impose their wrong decision against us under cover of the Security Council and the IAEA,” he said, according to the television broadcast.

Iran also dispatched its top nuclear official for last-minute talks with a senior IAEA official in Vienna, Austria, but diplomats said he was unlikely to be bearing major concessions that would alter the negative tone of the agency’s report to the U.N. Security Council.

Other diplomats and European officials told The Associated Press that the United States — the chief backer of tough measures meant to gain Iranian concessions on its nuclear program — had already asked for a Security Council meeting for May 3 to discuss the report and how to respond to it.

The diplomats and officials demanded anonymity because they are not authorized to discuss the report or other confidential aspects of the IAEA investigation of Iran’s nuclear program.

They said the report — to be submitted to the council and members of the IAEA’s 35-nation board after completion Friday — was likely to be critical of Iran for defying a council request to freeze uranium enrichment and fending off agency requests to provide information meant to address suspicions that it might be seeking to make nuclear weapons.

Iran’s nuclear chief, Gholamreza Aghazadeh, was not scheduled to meet with IAEA head Mohamed ElBaradei but with Olli Heinonen, a deputy IAEA director general in charge of Tehran’s nuclear file, said one of the diplomats, who is close to the Vienna-based agency. That reflected expectations that Aghazadeh was not carrying major concessions.

Whatever he had to offer would be unlikely to make it into the report with the publishing deadline so close, said the diplomat.