NewsSpecial WireIran gearing up for confrontation

Iran gearing up for confrontation

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ImageIran Focus: Tehran, Iran, Aug. 06 – Recent comments by senior officials in Tehran show a hardening of Iran’s attitude in the face of domestic and international pressures, according to some Iran analysts.

Iran Focus

ImageTehran, Iran, Aug. 06 – Recent comments by senior officials in Tehran show a hardening of Iran’s attitude in the face of domestic and international pressures, according to some Iran analysts.

Tehran missed a Saturday deadline to announce whether it would accept an offer by the world’s major powers to halt uranium enrichment in exchange for a package of nuclear and economic incentives. In a written response sent to EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana on Tuesday, Tehran refused to even refer to the issue of halting uranium enrichment, and simply called for further talks to take place. The Iranian response was denounced as “unacceptable” by the Bush administration.

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei struck a defiant tone last Wednesday, vowing that Iran will not give in to demands by world powers to halt sensitive nuclear work.

"Taking one step back against arrogant [powers] will lead to them taking one step forward", Khamenei said in a sermon that was reported on state television. "The idea that any retreat or backing down from righteous positions would change the policies of arrogant world powers is completely wrong and baseless".

Ramin Asadian, an expert on Iranian affairs based in Istabul, Turkey, told Iran Focus that Iran’s Supreme Leader Khamenei, who has the final say on all state matters, is charting a course of confrontation with the West, and as such cannot afford to tolerate any signs of weakness from officials within his regime.

“Khamenei has made a strategic decision to establish an atomic Islamic empire stretching through Iraq and Lebanon. From this point on, it is safe to say that any conciliatory gestures the regime shows over its nuclear projects in particular are simply meant to buy time”, Asadian said. “But he is playing on a very fine line since the popularity of his regime is at its lowest state from over the past 29 years”.

Iran’s hard-line President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad vowed Saturday that the Islamic Republic would not give up its "nuclear rights”, a euphemism for uranium enrichment.

The United Nations Security Council has imposed three sets of sanctions on Iran over its refusal to halt enrichment.

Other senior regime officials have been simultaneously making hard-line remarks over domestic affairs.

"Nothing is more attractive to the enemies than the issue of separation of church and state", Gholam-Ali Haddad-Adel, who was Iran's Majlis (Parliament) Speaker until earlier this year, said last Thursday, the official state broadcasting corporation reported.

"The American interpretation of Islam wants to weaken the Islamic revolution by putting forward the issue of separation of church and state", Haddad-Adel said during a meeting with Ayatollah Hossein Mazaheri, the head of the theological seminary in Isfahan.

Haddad-Adel, whose daughter is married to Ali Khamenei’s son, is currently a senior advisor to Khamenei.

"The dialogue which the country’s reformists profess is a secular reactionary dialogue and a return to the era of ignorance", Iran's government spokesman Gholam-Hossein Elham said on Thursday. He made the remarks to hard-line religious students, the government-owned news agency Fars reported.

“We are in a serious ideological, cultural and political war with reactionary secularism”, Elham said.

Ebrahim Ahmadi, a former Tehran professor now living in Bonn, Germany, believes that the clerical establishment has a strategic weakness in its confrontation with the West. “It does not have popular support for its international policies. … The young in Iran, especially students, have no interest in the establishment of a nuclear-armed Iran. They are looking for fundamental change”, he said.

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