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With a Clenched Fist

Iran rebukes Obama's nuclear overture.

1:00 AM, Apr 27, 2010 • By MASEH ZARIF
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·    Hossein Shariatmadari, appointed by Khamene’i as editor of Kayhan, a daily newspaper reflective of the supreme leader’s views, wrote on April 12 that Obama is “undoubtedly and most certainly one of those savage American statesmen” and that his “stupidity is much greater than his savage character.”

·    Iran’s armed forces chief of staff Hassan Firouzabadi said two days after the release of the NPR that: “If the US seriously threatens Iran and takes an action against Iran, none of the American soldiers in the region would return to the United States alive.” Iran’s defense minister and former IRGC Qods Force chief, Ahmad Vahidi, said the same day: “We, too, announce that we will use all options to defend ourselves.” The deputy head of Iran’s armed forces general staff, Brigadier General Massoud Jazayeri, said on April 13: “Obama would never have uttered such cheap remarks if he had not suffered a major weakness and had not faced the (present) all-around dead-end in dealing with Iran.”

·    Parliament speaker Ali Larijani said the NPR remarks “show that the US President is taking the same previous arrogant and hegemonic approach through demagogic gestures.” Three-quarters of the parliament also signed a petition calling on the foreign ministry to lodge a formal complaint with the United Nations on the grounds that the U.S. represents a “threat against international peace.”

·    Parliament member Ali Zanjani on April 26: “The US nuclear threat against the Islamic Iran is a scandal for the global arrogance and the world should not ignore it easily.”  A senior parliamentarian on the national security and foreign policy committee, Kazzem Jalali: “If the world order is a just and correct order, it should then react to the US [NPR] threats.”

·    Iran’s Ambassador to the United Nation, Mohammad Khazaee, wrote a letter to the United Nations describing the statements by President Obama and Secretary Gates as “nuclear blackmail” against Iran, “a serious violation” of the United Nations charter, and “a real threat to international peace and security.”

·    Judiciary head Ayatollah Sadegh Larijani on April 25: “Nuclear threat(s) against Iran proves that the West’s claims of championing human rights are lies…It is regrettable that official international bodies remained silent on the implicit and unwise threat of US President.”

·    Ayatollah Ahmad Khatami, a member of the Assembly of Experts body charged with appointing the supreme leader, said during Friday prayers in Tehran following the NPR release: “Dealing with Iran is playing with the lion's tail... if the US wants to act crazily, then friends of the Islamic revolution will endanger America's interests.”

These responses to the NPR language display the intransigent position of the Islamic Republic and highlight the regime’s concerted effort to counter the international community and its concerns. These statements are not sporadic and represent only one case in an ongoing pattern of behavior exhibited by regime authorities.  Specifically, officials and key figures confront international statements with vitriolic rebukes, present alternative narratives that in many cases avoid addressing substantive issues, and attempt to show the inevitable progression of the regime’s current course, in this case the advancement of the nuclear program.

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