The Hindu – November 6, 2011
As their war of words heats up, Iran has accused the United States and its allies of adopting tactics including fabrication of documents to build a case against Tehran as they had done during the run-up to the Iraq war.
Iran’s Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi, a former head of the country’s atomic energy establishment, said at a Saturday press conference in Tehran the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which functions under the aegis of the United Nations, was succumbing to U.S. pressure. Mr. Salehi was responding to reports attributed to unnamed diplomats that the IAEA, next week, would release documents that would raise suspicions that Iran was actively pursuing atomic weapons, a charge that Tehran has staunchly and consistently denied.
Mr. Salehi signalled that the West was habituated to using fabricated documents, and referred specifically to the accusation ahead of the 2003-war against Iraq that it had sourced uranium from Niger to run a weapon-oriented nuclear programme. “The Americans raised documents like this in the past” he said pointing to the “Niger scandal,” when forged documents were “used as a pretext to invade Iraq”. “After killing tens of thousands of innocent people, it was discovered that it was a forged document,” Mr. Salehi observed.
The Iranian Foreign Minister dismissed assertions that the IAEA was on the verge of releasing documents that would imply that Iran was pursuing atomic weapons. “They are claiming that they are going to publish new documents. We know what the truth is — let them publish them and we’ll see what happens. Will they not be called into question as an agency that is under pressure by foreign powers?” Mr. Salehi pointed out that even in the past, IAEA had brought to Iran’s notice documents in the form of “alleged studies,” which raised suspicions about Tehran’s nuclear intent.
But Iran had already responded to these assertions by releasing a 117-page rebuttal. “If the IAEA is impartial it should resist the pressures exerted by certain countries and do its job professionally,” Mr. Salehi counselled.
The upcoming IAEA report follows a recent American accusation that Iran had masterminded a foiled terror plot to assassinate Saudi Arabia’s Ambassador to the United States by blowing up a Washington restaurant with the help of a Mexican drug cartel.
But reinforcing its rejection of this assertion, Iranian authorities on Saturday handed over a letter to U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon that suggested that the American accusation was entirely misplaced. One of the suspects in the plot, Gholam Shakuri, actually belonged to Mujahideen Khalq Organisation (MKO), a rabidly anti-Iran group, Iran’s English language broadcaster, Press TV reported.
On October 17, Iran’s semi-official Mehr News Agency had reported that Mr. Shakuri had travelled to Washington and to Iraq to visit Camp Ashraf, the base of the MKO.
Mr. Salehi said the IAEA report, the assassination plot and accusations about human rights abuses were a “three-pronged attack from the West against Iran … just an assault to pressure Iran into subjugation”. Instead of Iran, it was the U.S. which was involved in terrorism, Mr. Salehi stressed, pointing to the 100 “undeniable documents,” in Iran’s possession which, in his view, proved Washington’s complicity in terrorism.