Iran's defense minister warns Israel

Newly appointed Ahmad Vahidi says move against Iran "will be met with harsh and powerful response."

Ahmad Vahidi 248.88 ap (photo credit: AP)
Ahmad Vahidi 248.88 ap
(photo credit: AP)
Iran's parliament approved most of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's choices for key cabinet posts on Thursday, including endorsing the defense minister nominee who is wanted by Argentina for a deadly 1994 bombing of the AMIA Jewish cultural center. The broad mandate from lawmakers was a boost for the embattled president and considered a vote of confidence for his crackdowns on political opponents and tough stance against Western pressure for talks on the nation's nuclear program. Ahmadinejad has faced questions about the experience and expertise of some choices for his 21-seat cabinet, but managed to win approval for many key posts that included the foreign, interior, intelligence ministries and Ahmad Vahidi as defense minister. Vahidi is one of five prominent Iranians sought by Argentina, via Interpol, in the AMIA bombing, which killed 85 people. He was the commander of the Quds Force of Iran's Revolutionary Guard at the time of the attack, and allegedly took part in a high-level meeting at which the blast was authorized. Immediately after his appointment was approved, Vahidi warned Israel not to attack Iran's nuclear facilities. "Every move from the Zionist entity against Iran will be met with a harsh and powerful response from Iran," he said. He added that the overwhelming support he garnered in the parliamentary vote on his appointment "attests to the anti-Zionist spirit of the Iranian parliament and people." The parliament also backed Marzieh Vahid Dastjerdi as health minister, making her the Islamic republic's first female minister since the 1979 Islamic Revolution. It was not a clean sweep, though, for Ahmadinejad as he faces increasing internal dissent following his disputed reelection victory in June. Lawmakers rejected three nominees: that for the important Energy Ministry post and two women proposed for the Welfare and the Social Security ministries. Vahidi gained support earlier this week when lawmakers said they would not bow to foreign pressures to reject him.