Iranian leadership takes defiant tone on IAEA report

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in a meeting with constituents in Shahr-e Kord

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in a meeting with constituents in Shahr-e Kord

Source: ISNA , Date: 09 November 2011

Senior Iranian officials, including President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Majlis Speaker Ali Larijani, have taken a defiant tone toward this week’s International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) report, which has indicated that Iran is pursuing the main elements of a nuclear weapon, albeit in a diffuse manner.

In a meeting with constituents in Shahr-e Kord, Ahmadinejad stated that:

“They [the West and Israel] are armed with nuclear weapons, but arrogantly claim that Iran wants to build a nuclear weapon. If these people [Iranians] want to build [nuclear] bombs, they do not fear you and consider you nothing…These people do not need bombs…Using culture, logic, morality and the desire for justice, the nation of Iran will cut you down to size.”

The Iranian president then called on Western leaders to de-escalate tensions and “turn back from this path”, and rhetorically asked the international community why it sacrificed its own the legitimacy of the Atomic Energy Agency for America”.

He concluded by striking an uncompromising pose, warning:

“Know that this nation will not turn back a hair’s breadth from the path [of the nuclear program] that it has chosen.”

Larijani took a similar tone:

“The nuclear issue is important to the Iranian people, and European and American leaders must know that the nation of Iran will not turn back from the nuclear issue, which is a matter of pride for them…Do not think that if you raise a fuss you can influence issues which are a question of honor [for Iranians] and change their minds.

He accused the current IAEA head, Yukiya Amano, of unfairness and ignorance when it came to Iran’s nuclear program:

“It seems that Mr. El-Baradai was fairer, and his reports sometimes mentioned that inspections were progressing [positively], but Amano is not aware of the way this is done and in his report has spun stories and has made claims about the military aspects of Iran’s nuclear program that are based on the claims of the Zionist regime [Israel]. This is why we can see that the Israelis have expressed joy at the [International Atomic Energy] Agency’s report.”

Editor’s note: Iran’s response to the IAEA’s revelations has been non-conciliatory and defiant. The tone of the response of Iran’s senior leadership to the report makes it clear that they are not concerned about the prospect of a military attack.

The IAEA report marks the third time in the last month in which Iran has been the center of a major international controversy. In October, the US released the details of a plot in which it alleged that Iran had masterminded an assassination attempt on the Saudi ambassador to the US. Later in the month the United Nation’s special rapporteur Ahmed Shaheed released a damning report on the state of human rights in Iran. Interestingly, each of these controversies corresponds with a central challenge Iran faces in its relationship with the West.

The IAEA report appears consistent with our earlier analysis indicating Iran was pursuing the “Japanese option” in regard to its nuclear program, in which it would reach the threshold of obtaining nuclear weapons without actually doing so. Expect an analysis on the significance of this report and how it plays into the larger picture of Iran’s international relations very soon.