Wed, Dec 01, 2010 - Page 6 News List

Tehran dismisses WikiLeaks releases

MIND GAMES:Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said the US embassy cables were not leaked, but intended as psychological warfare against his country

The Guardian, JERUSALEM

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad dismissed the WikiLeaks releases on Monday as a worthless psychological warfare campaign against his country. However, Israel said it felt vindicated by the public exposure of international concern — much of it from Arab countries — over Iran’s nuclear program.

“We don’t think this information was leaked,” Ahmadinejad said during a televised press conference in Tehran. “We think it was organized to be released on a regular basis and they are pursuing political goals.”

Ahmadinejad told reporters that documents highlighting Arab hostility to Iran and its alleged nuclear ambitions would have no impact.

“We are friends with the regional countries and mischievous acts will not affect relations,” he said.

Iranian media commented that the US does not trust its agents inside Iran and claimed the US had been involved in the mass protests and unrest that followed last year’s disputed presidential election.

Press TV, the English-language Iranian TV channel, also highlighted evidence from the cables that US diplomats are apparently engaged in espionage — a charge that will hold special resonance in a country where the long-empty US embassy is still routinely referred to as “the nest of spies.”

Arab governments maintained a discreet silence, but Arabic-language media highlighted reports that both Saudi Arabia and Bahrain had pushed for military action against Iran to stop its nuclear program.

“The Arabs agitated against Iran,” Qatar-based al-Jazeera TV headlined its main story.

Its rival, the Saudi-owned al-Arabiya, initially made no reference to Saudi King Abdullah’s call to attack Iran “to cut off the head of the snake” or to similarly hawkish comments by Bahraini King Hamad, but later changed its story to include these.

The Saudi paper Okaz focused on warnings by the British government that the massive leak could endanger lives. Other Arab media headlined stories dealing with Israel’s ability to attack Iran, as well as Tehran’s acquisition of long-range missiles. The Saudi Gazette reported the WikiLeaks story, but without mentioning Saudi Arabia.

In the United Arab Emirates’ capital Abu Dhabi, where Emirati Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan was reported in the cables as having made bellicose remarks about Iran, English-language paper the National did not report a local link to the WikiLeaks story.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu claimed vindication for the view that Iran constitutes the biggest regional threat and that its development of a nuclear capacity must be halted.

“Israel has not been damaged at all by the WikiLeaks publications. On the contrary, the documents showed support in many quarters for Israel’s assessments, especially on Iran,” he said.

Several Israeli commentators suggested that US attempts to get the stalled Israeli-Palestinian talks back on track would be put on hold while the administration concentrates on a damage-limitation exercise.

Iranian media did not widely report a claim that Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has terminal cancer.

However, one Web site, alef.ir, affiliated to the Revolutionary Guards, focused on US links with Iranians protesting at the outcome of last year’s presidential election.

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