Attack on Iran not in US's interests: Rafsanjani
Former Iranian President Hashemi Rafsanjani said on Sunday that a US military strike against Iran was not in Washington's interests.india Updated: Apr 16, 2006 18:54 IST
Former Iranian President Hashemi Rafsanjani said on Sunday that a US military strike against Iran was not in Washington's interests.
Wrapping up a five-day visit to Syria, Rafsanjani noted that the UN Security Council so far had not endorsed any unanimous resolution for action against Iran over its nuclear program and accused the United States of waging "a psychological war" against Tehran after it announced it had enriched uranium, the main plank of its nuclear programme.
"If the United States launched a military strike against Iran, that would be neither in its interests nor in the interests of the entire region," Rafsanjani told a joint news conference in Damascus with Syrian Vice president Farouk al-Sharaa.
He said he believed that the United States was "incapable of taking a risk or engaging into a new war in the region without discussing the subject seriously."
US media reports have said President George W Bush's administration was considering a military attack on Iran over its nuclear programme, which Washington claims is designed to produce nuclear weapons.
Bush has dismissed those reports as "wild speculation." The US is working with the Security Council to press Iran to stop its nuclear programme, which Tehran says is aimed solely at civilian electricity generation.
On Tuesday, Iran's hard-line President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad announced that Iran had successfully enriched uranium for the first time using 164 centrifuges, a significant step toward the large-scale production of a material that can be used to fuel nuclear reactors for generating electricity -- or to build atomic bombs.
So far, Iran has rejected a UN Security Council demand for it to stop enriching uranium by April 28.
Al-Sharaa defended Iran's right to possess nuclear technology for peaceful purposes, saying western pressure on Iran has arisen because "the United States and Europe refuse to make any Muslim country possess modern technology."
He asked why Israel's reported possession of nuclear weapons and more than 200 nuclear heads had never been raised. Rafsanjani, who lost to Ahmadinejad in the 2005 presidential elections, called the western countries' stand on Iran's uranium enrichment "unjust."
"Iran's success in uranium enrichment is for the interest of the region's countries and all Islamic countries," Rafsanjani said. He stressed that Iran's nuclear program was not intended to harm any country in the region.
Rafsanjani, who heads the Expediency Council, a powerful body that arbitrates between Iran's parliament and clerical hierarchy, left on Sunday for Kuwait where he said he would talk to officials about bilateral relations and developments in Iraq and Palestine. Al-Sharaa told the conference that Syrian President Bashar Assad urged Syrian citizens to donate to the Palestinian Authority and people "in a show of solidarity with the Palestinians who are subjected to pressures for their democratic choice," -- a reference to the militant Palestinian Hamas group's election victory in January.
Israel, the United States and the European Union have said they would withhold millions of dollars in payments to the Palestinian Authority unless the Hamas-led government recognises Israel and renounces violence. Hamas, labelled a terrorist organization by the United States and Israel, has refused to recognise Israel or to soften its policy toward the Jewish state.