New York Times: A number of Iranian officials declared Tuesday that Iran would not be intimidated by threats, a day after President Bush refused to rule out military action against Iran if it continued to pursue nuclear weapons.
New York Times
By NAZILA FATHI
TEHRAN – A number of Iranian officials declared Tuesday that Iran would not be intimidated by threats, a day after President Bush refused to rule out military action against Iran if it continued to pursue nuclear weapons.
“We are not afraid of foreign enemies’ threats and sanctions, since they know well that throughout its Islamic and ancient history, Iran has been no place for adventurism,” Iran’s former president, Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, told the state news agency, IRNA.
Iran’s defense minister, Ali Shamkhani, made some vague threats of his own, saying, “We have developed a might that no country can attack us because they do not have accurate information about our military capabilities,” according to the Mehr news agency. “We have produced equipment at a rapid pace with the minimum investment that has resulted in the greatest deterrent force.”
Mr. Rafsanjani announced in October that Iran had successfully increased the range of its missile, Shahab-3, to 1,200 miles, putting Israel, American bases in the Persian Gulf and even parts of Europe in range.
Mehr news agency, which reportedly has close ties to the office of the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, boasted in non-specific terms about Iran’s ability to retaliate against any attacks. “Today, the Islamic Republic has acquired massive military might, the dimensions of which still remain unknown, and is prepared to attack any intruder with a fearsome rain of fire and death,” it said, according to Reuters.
Iranian officials also had more to say about an article in The New Yorker that said United States commandos have been operating inside the country since mid-2004, selecting sites for future airstrikes. The chief spokesman at Iran’s national security council scoffed at the report, dismissing it as a “ridiculous bluff” and “psychological warfare against Iran.”
“The entry of American commandos is not that easy, and believing this story would be naïve,” state radio quoted the spokesman, Ali Aghamohammadi, as saying.
Iran’s judiciary retreated on Tuesday from its threat to arrest Shirin Ebadi, the human rights lawyer and Nobel Peace Prize winner, for defying a summons to appear before a security court and said the summons was an error, a rare acknowledgment.
A judiciary spokesman, Kamal Karimirad, said Tuesday that the clerk who wrote the summons “was not experienced enough” and had failed to state the reason for the summons. The clerk also mistakenly called Ms. Ebadi to the hard-line Revolutionary Court, the branch that deals with national security, Mr. Karimirad said at a weekly news conference, ISNA, a news agency, reported.
Ms. Ebadi had described the summons as illegal.
On Monday, Ms. Ebadi boldly called on the Iranian Judiciary authorities to abolish solitary confinement. Mr. Karimirad answered that Iran no longer had solitary confinement cells.
Ms. Ebadi, 57, has had conflicts with the authorities in the past for defending political dissidents. In this case she was representing the family of an Iranian-Canadian journalist, Zahra Kazemi, who died during detention by the Iranian judiciary in 2002.
In another matter where Iran apparently shifted, the chief of the judiciary, Ayatollah Mahmoud Shahroudi, met last week with more than a dozen journalists and bloggers recently released from long solitary confinements. He promised to follow their cases and end their harassment.