Defiant Tehran warns Israel, slams sanctions
Ayatollah Ali Khamenei (L) waves to the crowd at the 23rd anniversary of the death of the late founder of the Islamic Republic Ayatollah Khomei. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (3rd R inset) and other top officials attend the ceremony.
Iran’s Supreme Leader warned yesterday that any Israeli attack would be answered with a “lightning” response by the Islamic Republic and suggested Iran’s nuclear program could not be curtailed by Western sanctions.
The remarks by Ayatollah Ali Khamanei echoed previous hard-line positions by Iran, but take on added resonance amid talks with the U.S. and five other world powers. Khamanei called the claims of a secret weapons program “lies” and repeated Iran’s statements that it only sought reactors for energy and medical research.
Khamanei put Israel on notice that any military action would bring swift consequences. “Should they take any wrong step, any inappropriate move, it will fall on their heads like lightning,” he warned in a speech marking the 23rd anniversary of the death of his predecessor, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the leader of the 1979 Islamic Revolution.
New space center soon
“The obstacles enemies are creating in our path won’t have any effect. Sanctions are ineffective. Sanctions can’t stop the Iranian nation from moving forward,” Khamanei said at Khomeini’s mausoleum south of Tehran, according to the Associated Press.
“The only effect these unilateral and multilateral sanctions have on the Iranian nation is that they deepen hatred and animosity toward the West in the heart of our people,” he said. Khamanei said Israel was now more vulnerable than at any other time, with pro-U.S. regimes falling in the Arab Spring, and claimed that the U.S. and its allies were concentrating on the Iranian nuclear issue to “cover their own problems.” A day before the statement of the supreme leader, the country’s defense minister said Iran was finishing construction of a new space center that will allow it to soon launch more domestically-made satellites into orbit.
Ahmad Vahidi, in comments carried by the official IRNA news agency, said the first satellite to be launched from the new center will be the Tolo. Vahidi didn’t say where the new facility, which has been named after the Islamic Republic’s founder Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, is located.
“Some 80 percent of the actual construction of the new space center has been completed,” Vahidi said, adding that the new facility would send “satellites from Iran, the regional countries and the world of Islam into orbit in the near future.”