'We'll back any nation fighting Zionist regime'

Islamic Republic will not yield to international pressure to abandon its nuclear course, says Iran's Supreme Leader.

By REUTERS
February 3, 2012 11:43
3 minute read.
Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei

Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei 311 (R). (photo credit: Ho New / Reuters)

TEHRAN - Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said Friday that Iran would support any nation that wants to confront Israel. "I have no fear of saying that we will back and help any nation or group that wants to confront and fight against the Zionist regime (Israel)," he said.

He also stated that the Islamic Republic would not yield to international pressure to abandon its nuclear course, threatening retaliation for sanctions aimed at Iran's oil exports.

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Khamenei's defiant speech to mark the anniversary of the 1979 Islamic Revolution was the first direct response to tighter sanctions imposed by the West in recent weeks to force Tehran to abandon a nuclear program it says has purely peaceful ends.

"Threatening Iran and attacking Iran will harm America ... Sanctions will not have any impact on our determination to continue our nuclear course ... In response to threats of oil embargo and war, we have our own threats to impose at the right time," Khamenei told worshipers in a speech broadcast live on state television.

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Khamenei added that any US military strike against Iran would backfire and that the "painful and crippling" Western sanctions would only increase the resilience of Iran.

"Americans say all options are on the table even the option of military strike (against Iran)... Any military strike is ten times more harmful for America. Such threats show that they have no sufficient discourse against Iran's logic and discourse, he said."

His comments came a day after Israel’s top political and military leadership issued a series of warnings to the Islamic Republic in some of the most candid comments on the nuclear threat in years.

Speaking at the Herzliya Conference, Defense Minister Ehud Barak said there was a consensus among many nations today that if diplomacy and sanctions failed to stop Iran, a military strike should be launched.

“If sanctions don’t achieve the desired goal of stopping [Iran’s] military nuclear program, there will be a need to consider taking action,” he declared.

Barak’s threat was backed up earlier on Thursday by Vice Premier Moshe Ya’alon who said that Iran needed to be stopped “one way or another” and that a credible military threat needed to be on the table, a message also delivered by IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz on Wednesday evening.

Earlier in the day, OC Military Intelligence Maj.-Gen. Aviv Kochavi said that Iran has created a stockpile of enriched uranium that could be used to manufacture four nuclear weapons.

Kochavi said that once Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei made the decision to go to the “breakout stage” and begin enriching uranium to military-grade levels, it would take the Iranians a year to make a crude device and another year or two to manufacture a nuclear warhead that can be installed on a ballistic missile.

Israel’s increased threats came as The Washington Post reported that US Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta believes Israel will attack Iran in April, May or June.

According to the report, written by the paper’s senior opinion writer David Ignatius, Panetta is concerned that Israel will attack before Iran enters the so-called “immunity zone” when its nuclear facilities will be heavily fortified and a military strike will no longer succeed.

Yaakov Katz contributed to this report.


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