Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Gulf Daily News - Iran to strike back if nuclear sites hit

Gulf Daily News: "Iran to strike back if nuclear sites hit

TEHRAN: Iran threatened yesterday to strike back at Israel or any other country that attacked its nuclear facilities."If Israel or any other country attacks any site in Iran, we know no limits to threaten their interests," Deputy Revolutionary Guards Commander Mohammad-Baqer Zolqadr said.

"That means anywhere in the world, within their borders or outside it," he said on the sidelines of an anti-US conference in Tehran.

Israeli warplanes successfully destroyed the Osirak nuclear reactor in Iraq in 1981. Iran has stationed anti-aircraft batteries around its nuclear plants and built many of its facilities underground.

Iranian officials have also warned they can strike back at Israel with its medium-range Shahab-3 missile, which can also hit US military bases in the Gulf.

Zolqadr denied Iran was developing nuclear weapons, saying the Islamic state preferred to rely on a volunteer militia force, which he said numbered 10 million, to defend the country.

Earlier the commander addressed high-school students at a conference entitled "The World Without America".

"The world without America is a world without oppression, without terror, without invasion, without massacre," he said in a speech that catalogued US "crimes" ranging from the massacre of native Americans to the atom bomb on Hiroshima.

A video clip played for the audience showed gruesome pictures of injured children lying in hospital beds in Iraq, which US-led forces invaded last year.

Zolqadr said an Iraq-style invasion of Iran was out of the question thanks to Iran's growing military might.

Meanwhile, the European Union's three big powers were "pretty close" to a deal with Iran that would freeze Tehran's nuclear fuel enrichment and reprocessing activities, EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana said.

Solana said that if an agreement was reached, there would be no reason to refer Iran to the UN Security Council for sanctions over its disputed programme.

"Progress has been made and we are waiting now for the final response from Iran," he said, referring to a tentative agreement which was hammered out in Paris at the weekend by an Iranian delegation and officials from Britain, Germany and France.

"It's very difficult to give a definition of how close we are but my feeling today is that we are pretty close to having an agreement ... let's hope for new developments in the coming hours, days," Solana said.

EU diplomats said after the Paris talks that the agreement now just needed a go-ahead from Iran's leadership."

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