Any attack by Israel on Iran will blow back on the Jewish state “like thunder,” the Iranian supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said yesterday.
Khamenei also said that the international community’s suspicion that Iran was seeking nuclear weapons is based on a “lie” and he insisted that sanctions imposed on his country were ineffective and only strengthened its resolve.
His speech, broadcast on state TV to mark the 1989 death of his predecessor and founder of the Islamic republic, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, contained no sign that Iran was prepared to make any concessions on its disputed nuclear program.
Instead, it was infused with defiance and Khamenei’s customary contempt for Iran’s archfoes, Israel and the US.
If the Israelis “make any misstep or wrong action, it will fall on their heads like thunder,” Khamenei said.
The Jewish state, he added, was feeling “vulnerable” and “terrified” after losing former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak as an ally.
Allegations that Iran was trying to develop atomic bombs were false, Khamenei also said.
“International political circles and media talk about the danger of a nuclear Iran, that a nuclear Iran is dangerous. I say that they lie. They are deceiving,” Khamenei said.
“What they are afraid of — and should be afraid of — is not a nuclear, but an Islamic Iran,” he said.
“They invoke the term ‘nuclear weapons’ based on a lie. They magnify and highlight the issue in their propoganda based on a lie. Their goal is to divert minds and public opinion from the [economic] events that are happening in the US and Europe,” he added.
Western economic sanctions imposed to pressure Iran to curb its nuclear program were having no effect, Khamenei insisted. Their only impact, he said, was “deepening hatred and animosity of the West in the hearts of the Iranian people.”
Khamenei called the stance by the US and its Western allies “crazy.”
“The Iranian people have proved they can progress without the United States, and while being an enemy of the United States,” he said.
Western nations, the US at the fore, accuse Iran of wanting to develop the capability to make nuclear weapons, something Khamenei has repeatedly denied. The supreme leader has called atomic arms “a great sin.”
Talks between the Islamic republic and the so-called P5+1 group of nations — the US, Britain, France, Russia, China, plus Germany — were revived this year and are to go to a crucial next round in Moscow on June 18.
Meanwhile, Iran is finishing construction of a new space center that will allow it to soon launch more domestically made satellites into orbit, the country’s defense minister said on Saturday.
The remarks by General Ahmad Vahidi were the first confirmation that Iran is building a new space facility.
Iran’s ambitious space plans have also raised concerns in the West because of their possible military applications — the same rocket technology used to send satellites into orbit can also be retooled to make intercontinental warheads.
Vahidi, in comments carried by the official IRNA news agency, said the first satellite to be launched from the new center will be the Tolo. It will be carried into orbit by the Iranian-made Simorgh light booster rocket, he said.
Vahidi did not say where the new facility, which has been named after Khomeini, is located.
Iran already has a major satellite launch complex near Semnan, 200km east of Tehran, and another space center — a satellite monitoring facility — outside Mahdasht, about 70km west of the Iranian capital.
“About 80 percent of the actual construction of the new space center has been completed,” Vahidi said, adding that the new facility will send “satellites from Iran, the regional countries and the world of Islam into orbit in the near future.”
Iran says it wants to put its own satellites into orbit to monitor natural disasters and improve its telecommunications. Iranian officials also point to the US’ use of satellites to monitor conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq, and say they need similar capabilities for their security.