Iranian official calls for attack on UK

Fearing a US strike on Iran during President George W. Bush’s last months in office, a senior Iranian official has suggested the Islamic regime should target London to deter such an attack.

In an article on the Iranian Web site Aftab last week – translated by the Washington-based Middle East Media Research Institute – the head of the Europe and US Department in the Iranian Foreign Ministry, Wahid Karimi, said that an attack on London would deter the US from attacking Teheran.

“The most appropriate means of deterrence that Iran has, in addition to a retaliatory operation in the [Gulf] region, is to take action against London,” Karimi said.

In the article, the Iranian official said that an attack might also stem from the fact that presidents in their second terms are “usually adventuresome.”

Citing some examples he said: “US presidents are usually adventuresome in their second terms… [Richard] Nixon, disgraced by the Watergate scandal; [Ronald] Reagan, with the ‘Irangate’ adventure; [and Bill] Clinton, with Monica Lewinsky – and perhaps George Bush, the sitting president, will create a scandal connected to Iran’s legitimate nuclear activity so as not to be left behind.”

He speculated that a US attack on Iran could come between next month’s presidential election and when the new president enters office in January 2009.

“In the worst-case scenario, George Bush may perhaps persuade the president-elect to carry out an ill-conceived operation against Iran, prior to January 20, 2009 – that is, before the regime is handed over and he ends his presence in the White House. The next president of the US will have to deal with the consequences,” he warned.

Admitting that previous Iranian warnings to paralyze “the Jerusalem-occupying regime” to deter “American adventurism” has not worked, Karimi said that “the most appropriate means of deterrence” for Iran would be to attack London.

“If we agree that such a scenario – with America, England and Israel at its center – is conceivable, then it would seem that the most appropriate means of deterrence that Iran has, in addition to a retaliatory operation in the [Gulf] region, is to take action against London. Experience proves that the [part played] by politicians in Tel Aviv and in London, in the [fanning of the] flames against Iran and in the urging of America to strike Iran, is no less than [the part played] by Bush,” he said.

During a visit to Bahrain last Wednesday, the chairman of the Iranian parliament, Ali Larijani, regarded by some as a moderate, rejected claims that his country’s support of militants fighting US forces in Iraq could be considered support for terrorism.

“They are freedom fighters fighting to defend their country and independence, that is not terrorism,” he said.

Larijani, Iran’s former nuclear negotiator, said Iran’s support was part of its commitment in the region to assist its neighbors in fighting occupation, and accused the US, the West and Israel of contradicting the values of freedom and democracy.

He also said that the ties between Teheran and Damascus were strategic, and downplayed any impact that the indirect Syrian-Israeli negotiations might have.

“Despite Israeli talk of peace, they continue to build settlements and none of their alleged peace efforts have been achieved. The real problem is with the Zionist entity because its existence depends on creating conflict in the region,” he said.

In an interview in the al-Wasat newspaper, he attacked US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in a personal manner, referring to her not having had children.

“The West needs to reconsider what they say. The top US diplomat Condoleezza Rice, during the Israeli aggression against Lebanon, described the war as ‘the birth pangs of a new Middle East,'” he said. “As a woman who did not try the experience of pregnancy, she seems to not have known that a birth needs longer time than that.”

In addition to supporting Hamas and Hizbullah, Iran has also been supporting the Islamist insurgencies in Iraq and southern Afghanistan, where British troops are based.