New York Times: Iran’s supreme religious leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, attacked the United States on Wednesday for making what he called “atomic threats” against his country, while the army announced a large-scale military drill in the Persian Gulf to display its strength. The New York Times
By NAZILA FATHI
Iran’s supreme religious leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, attacked the United States on Wednesday for making what he called “atomic threats” against his country, while the army announced a large-scale military drill in the Persian Gulf to display its strength.
The ayatollah’s statement and the military announcement came at a time of heightened tension between Tehran and the West over Iran’s nuclear program. President Obama is trying to persuade the United Nations Security Council to impose tough sanctions on Iran to dissuade the country from further enrichment of uranium, which Western nations suspect is an Iranian pretext for developing a bomb.
Ayatollah Khamenei’s statement appeared to be a response to President Obama’s recently announced revisions in American nuclear policy, in which he excluded Iran and North Korea from limits on the use of American atomic weapons.
While administration officials have sought to frame that change as an inducement to Iran, the ayatollah’s remarks suggested the Iranian leadership regards it as a new level of intimidation.
“How can the U.S. president make atomic threats against Iranian people?” Ayatollah Khamenei said in a speech to Iranian medical workers, the Fars news agency reported from Tehran. “This threat is a threat against humanity and international piece, and no one in the world should dare to articulate such words.”
He added, “We will not allow America to renew its hellish dominance over Iran by using such tools and threats.”
The Iranian military’s announcement of exercises said it was staging a three-day naval, ground and air war game in the Persian Gulf, including the sensitive Strait of Hormuz, starting Thursday. The Strait of Hormuz is a narrow transit way for the passage of nearly 20 percent of the world’s daily oil supply in southern Iran, between the Persian Gulf and the Sea of Oman.
The deputy chief of the Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps, Brig. Gen. Hosseini Salami, said the exercise was aimed at showing “Iran’s strength and will against the threats of the enemies,” Fars reported.
“The exercise wants to highlight the security of the Persian Gulf and Strait of Hormuz and Iran’s role in providing security in this region,” he was quoted as saying.
Iran regularly stages military drills to show off its military power and capability to deter threats.
Iran claims that its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes and that it has no intention of making nuclear weapons. It has refused to suspend its nuclear program and has denounced earlier rounds of United Nations sanctions.
Iranian officials have floated in recent days the possibility of revisiting a proposed deal to swap the bulk of the country’s nuclear fuel to be upgraded overseas and sent back to Iran. The Iranians had agreed to that deal last year but later renounced it, and have said several times in recent months they they might reconsider.
The head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization, Ali Salehi, said Wednesday that Iran would be willing to discuss that possible deal on the sidelines of a Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty review meeting in New York, the English language Press TV reported.
The foreign minister, Manouchehr Mottaki will “detail alternative methods after meeting Security Council members,” Mr. Salehi said.