The Internal Debate in Iran: How to Respond to Western Pressure Regarding Its Nuclear Program
June 17, 2004 No.181
By: Ayelet Savyon*
In response to increasing international pressure on Iran on the matter of its nuclear program, two major approaches are emerging in the Iranian media regarding the question of how to repel the Western threat to Iran's nuclear activities. The following is an analysis of these two main approaches to this question, as reflected in the Iranian media:
The Two Approaches
The first approach espoused by Iran's conservatives, and particularly by the Revolutionary Guards and circles close to Iranian Leader Ali Khamenei, is militant and aggressive, and openly threatens European and U.S. targets and interests, both in the Middle East and in the West. The second approach, espoused by Iran's reformist circles, is more moderate, emphasizing diplomatic channels, and opposes threatening the Europeans. However, for all their differences, both camps agree on Iran's need for an advanced nuclear program.
Conservative Strategy: Threat and Intimidation
Currently, Iran's nuclear activity dossier is under examination at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), and a decision on it is slated to be made soon. Iran is trying to block the U.S. from making good on its threat to transfer its nuclear dossier to the U.N. Security Council which would bring Iran under suspicion of non-compliance with the Nuclear Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and of secretly developing a nuclear bomb. Recently, Britain, France, and Germany, with whom Iran has conducted intensive negotiations during the past year, joined the U.S. and the IAEA in pressuring Iran, by releasing their draft resolution. This draft resolution condemns Iran's failure to fully cooperate with the IAEA, its failure to be completely transparent in its nuclear activity, and its failure to halt its nuclear activity, in contravention of its commitments in the October 21, 2003 Tehran Declaration. 
To repel the Western threat, Iran's conservatives are recommending intimidating Europe and the U.S. This is the backdrop to the following:
A growing number of reports about the recruitment and training of thousands of Iranian volunteers by Iran's Revolutionary Guards for suicide attacks against Western, European, and U.S. targets in Iraq, and their dispatch to Iraq.  (See Appendix I)
Reports on the resumption of Iran's project for long-range Shihab 4 and Shihab 5 missiles, by order of Iranian Leader Ali Khamenei with Europe and the U.S. as its strategic targets. 
Statements by senior Revolutionary Guards officials about the existence of a plan to eliminate Anglo-Saxon civilization using missiles and suicide bombers against "29 sensitive targets" in the West, which have already been identified by Iranian intelligence. 
Statements by conservative papers calling on Iran to quit the NPT, and not to ratify the Additional Protocol. 
Reformist Strategy: Diplomatic Efforts
The reformist circles, particularly those surrounding Iranian President Muhammad Khatami and the Foreign Ministry, are recommending a moderate strategy to be pursued via diplomatic channels. Over the past year, they have been negotiating with Britain, France, and Germany to have the Iranian dossier removed from the global agenda; during this time, they were apparently promised by these European powers that the dossier would be closed in exchange for an Iranian commitment to halt nuclear activities and to cooperate fully and transparently with the IAEA. 
The release of this European draft resolution condemning Iran caused great disappointment in Iran, and brought on a storm of criticism, based first of all on the premise that Europe could not ultimately be trusted to go against its ally the U.S. Furthermore, the conservatives attacked the reformists' exclusive dependence on diplomatic channels, which had proven fruitless, 
while the reformists criticized the conservatives for their recent recruitment of volunteers for suicide attacks on Western targets. The reformists explained their opposition to the institutionalization of such mass recruitment by stating that harming Europeans jeopardizes Iran's national interests at a time when Iran needs Europe's support to stand against the U.S. The reformists do not, however, object to suicide operations against Western targets, provided that they are carried out by individuals on their own initiative. 
Examples of the Conservatives' Strategy of Intimidation
The following are a number of examples demonstrating the conservatives' strategy of intimidation:
At a convention of volunteers for suicide operations, Iran's Revolutionary Guards Headquarters for Strategic Operations director General Salami said, "By means of small tactical events, it is possible to arrive at strategic results. Your eyes see that by cutting down two towers in the U.S., the history of the world has been divided in two: before the event, and after it "  (See Appendix I)
The World Islamic Organization's Headquarters for Remembering the Shahids spokesman Muhammad Ali Samedi said that so far, 2,000 people had signed up to carry out martyrdom operations, and added: "As of now, occupied Palestine, Salman Rushdie, and the U.S. occupation forces [in Iraq] are our targets, and this is true also regarding occupiers in the other Muslim countries The martyrdom will begin only at the order of [Iranian] Leader [Ali Khamenei]."  (See Appendix I)
Other published threats against the West include:
An announcement of the resumption of the long-range Shihab 4 and Shihab 5 missile program, by order of Iranian Leader Ali Khamenei.According to a military source in the Iranian Ministry of Defense, "in a meeting last week with Revolutionary Guards commanders, Khamenei said that Israel was planning to attack Iran's nuclear installations and the Iranian military soon, and therefore defense and military preparedness should be boosted as soon as possible. Khamenei stressed that the increase in petroleum prices allowed Iran to allocate a larger budget to its military projects. [Iran's] Ministry of Defense received $1 billion to resume its Shihab 4 and Shihab 5 project. It is known that in the past, Iran conducted an experiment with Shihab 3 missiles whose range is 1,200 kilometers [and which can reach Israel], but [President] Khatami halted the project of the Shihab 4, whose range is 2,800 [which covers Western Europe], and the Shihab 5, whose range is 4,900-5,300 km [and which can reach the U.S.], because he thought it was a project incompatible with Iran's strategic interests and defense needs." 
Statements by Dr. Hassan Abasi, theoretician of Revolutionary Guards intelligence, head of the Revolutionary Guards' Center for Doctrinaire Affairs of National Security Outside Iran's Borders, and political expert for the Iranian broadcasting authority, who told a secret meeting of Ansar-e Hizbullah activists about Iran's "locating and spying on 29 sensitive sites in the West, with the aim of bombing them Our intention is that 6,000 U.S. nuclear warheads will explode in [the U.S.]. We have located the  weak points and we have transferred the information about them to the guerilla organizations, and we are acting through them." Abasi added, "We have established a department for Britain as well, and the discussion about bringing about its collapse is on our agenda. We are also operating among the Mexicans, the Argentineans, and all those with a problem with the U.S."  According to another report, Abasi said, "We defend [the line of] violence and war against the enemies of revolutionary Islam. I take pride in my actions that cause anxiety and fear among the Americans We have a strategy drawn up for the destruction of Anglo-Saxon civilizationand for the uprooting of the Americans and the English. Our missiles are now ready to strike at their civilization, and as soon as the instructions arrive from Leader [Ali Khamenei], we will launch our missiles at their cities and installations. Our motto during the war in Iraq was: Karbala, we are coming, Jerusalem, we are coming. And because of Khatami's policies and his 'dialogue among civilizations,' we have been compelled to freeze our plan And now we are [again] about to carry out the program The global infidel front is a front against Allah and the Muslims, and we must make use of everything we have at hand to strike at this front, by means of our suicide operations or by means of our missiles." 
Also part of the intimidation trend are the conservative voices that every so often call on Iran to reconsider its membership in the NPT, and not to ratify the Additional Protocol. 
Signing the Additional Protocol is perceived by these circles as a humiliation forced upon Iran by Britain, France, and Germany.
In this context, the editor of the conservative Iranian daily Kayhan, Hossein Shariatmadari, who is close to Iranian Leader Ali Khamenei,published a uniquely important article calling for continuing to develop Iran's nuclear program regardless of the great powers, while at the same time adopting diverse strategies for repelling the Western pressure on Iran. Shariatmadari voices his pride in Iran's now being "a nuclear power," an achievement he calls "the rare pearl for which we have labored greatly." Beyond his harsh criticism of the Iranian Foreign Ministry's slavish capitulation to the demands of the European powers, and beyond accusing Iran's reformists of treason, Shariatmadari calls for considering "expanding [Iran's] capability of maneuvering by creating new options and opportunities, and reinforcing the logistics of resistance and preemption everywhere in the world." The following are excerpts from his article:
" An irrefutable fact is that despite its imbalanced conflict [with the West] and despite the various sanctions and egotism of the great powers, our country has managed to obtain exclusive, high-level nuclear technology. What we have attained is a local product, and [it] was attained as a result of great labor by experts from our people, and for this reason we owe nothing to the parsimonious powers of the world. We did not join the nuclear club as a result of support or permission by the U.S., Britain, France, or Germany. On the contrary: The select sons of Iran put the governments of Reagan, Thatcher, and Mitterand in their place and determined that Iran should catch up [with the great powers] in the area of peaceful nuclear technology
"Also, the second [irrefutable] fact is that Iran's transformation into a nuclear power contains a powerful and wide-ranging message
"The year-long zigzagging with them [the IAEA and the European powers, and also apparently Western public opinion] that occurred even though we cooperated fully, [with] 664 inspectors' visits and submission of a 1,000-page document about [Iran's] nuclear activity, and even though the Europeans and the Americans made various and diverse excuses they expected us to stop all our peaceful nuclear programs that we accept that they are a master cult and race, and that the rest of the world is a backwards race that must work at hard labor and enslave itself, beg, and seek shelter in the White House and Buckingham Palace and the Elysee Palace.
"Under the existing circumstances, we face two choices: Either we go along with the pressure they are applying, throw up our hands, and slaughter at their feet the 'daring' and the 'will' that are the foundations for building civilization, honor, and progress or we do not give in to blackmail, and value and preserve the rare pearl for which we have labored greatly, even though they try to present it as a worthless vessel. Obviously, the former is more in line with laxness, fear, and a mentality of [accepting] humiliation If our country wants to attain glory in the world, it has no choice but to lay out a strategy in this direction, and to prepare the appropriate means for this strategy.
" A people that wishes to attain genuine status in the world, and does not want to be the submissive slave of his enemies and rivals should not appoint diplomats who suffocate the daring within them. [It need only] expand [its] horizons and create opportunities [to act] in the face of the U.S. and some of the European powers, and [not send diplomats] who will sit at the negotiating table with their sacks empty and their cards revealed.
" Every country whose diplomatic apparatus can surprise the other side and make it realize that there is always the possibility that the 'unexpected' will happen to them again and again will neutralize a large part of the energy, daring, and initiative of [its] rival, as did the Imam Khomeini in the affair of the insolence of Salman Rushdie and as did his wise and learned successor [Iranian Leader Ali Khamenei] in the Mykonos scandal, in which the German ambassador was expelled and was the last of the European ambassadors who was brought back to Iran. 
Thus these two figures [Khomeini and Khamenei] turned belligerence and insolence [against Iran] into something to be paid for, which is also unexpected for the enemies. We must advance in order to defend our right in the face of the wolves of the world of the jungle.
"Being certain of this, we must immunize the diplomatic apparatus and dry up the roots of the pus-filled infection and fever that have struck it. We must think about expanding our capability to maneuver by creating new options and opportunities and reinforcing the logistics of resistance and preemption everywhere in the world. We cannot think about defending ourselves without preparing the ramparts and barricades in close proximity to the enemy. In this respect, our Foreign Ministry has not done enough, despite all the efforts and successes that must not be ignored. For example, optimistic discussions with Europe must not become the dominant discourse and strategy, while the rest of the arenas, such as the Islamic resistance, are neglected.
" This is not the place to expand on the strategic alliance of some centers and circles in the Sixth Majlis [which was reformist], the Foreign Ministry, and the [reformist] Journalists' Association with the European Union and elements such as former NATO Secretary-General Javier Solana. This is [also] not the place to examine when reasonable and measured relations with governments such as Berlin, London, and Paris became, covertly and in an extreme way, a strategic alliance against the principles of the Islamic Republic [of Iran], and the Islamic resistance and Islamic awakening in the Middle East. But it is possible to devote attention to the outcry raised by some senior European and American elements at the establishment of the conservative parliament [in Iran] after the February 28 elections.
"They [i.e. these European and American elements] realized that the world had turned upside down, and that it was no longer possible to capture [Iranian] MPs who would act for the sake of the enemy in the most sensitive of confrontations and in foreign policy clashes, and that [these Iranian MPs] would no longer be able to cultivate in the enemy a hope that in addition to pressure applied from without, they would act from within as a tool for amplifying the message of the enemy. If the enemy applied pressure, they [i.e. these MPs] would then prepare a three-phase plan in order to force their own government to sign the Additional Protocol and thus tie the hands of those in charge of Iranian foreign policy and throw them, bound, at the feet of the enemy.
"In light of this, I hope that the Seventh Majlis will be a center of gravity and a think tank, in order to attain insight and to consolidate Iran's diplomatic strategies and tactics.
"We must make the enemies understand that it is inconceivable that instability, insecurity, and shock will be our lot, while theirs will be stability, security, and tranquility. Their tranquility can also be breached.
" We too can play public opinion deep within their territory, and challenge their governments, but we must have broad vision, and not deal with the artificial crises that they are creating [amongst us] in order to distract us from what is happening around us " 
Reformist Response: The Government Should Not Organize Suicide Operations
The reformist daily Aftab-e Yazd criticized the efforts to organize volunteers for suicide operations against Western targets, stating in an editorial that "today too there is a need for prudence. Other countries affect our fate, whether we like it or not; they have divided the roles amongst themselves well and are acting, more than anything else, in their own long-term interests. However there are among some of the decision makers in Iran elements that are unaware of the severity of the threats against Iran, or that have doubts regarding the proper way to identify and remove the dangers to it.
"On the one hand, we have negotiated [on Iran's nuclear dossier and on human rights in Iran] with Germany, Britain, and France, to please them and to turn them into countries united on the side of Iran, so we can deal with the U.S.'s high-handedness. Even though from the very first day it was clear that in light of the strategic interests shared by Europe and the U.S. some of what we thought turned out to be an illusion. But we had the option of benefiting from the existing rivalry between the two influential poles Europe and the U.S.
"But on the other hand, we have taken a number of actions that served the Europeans as an excuse they had sought from the outset. We inflated the matter of the meeting of the German Ambassador to Iran beyond its true proportions and demanded his expulsion; we saw the difficulties caused to the Frenchwoman in Lyons who publicly wore Islamic garb as reason to cut off economic cooperation with France. And after some time, we repeatedly attacked the British Embassy, and thus completed the project of destroying ties with three European countries.
"Volunteering for martyrdom operations against U.S. and British forces is a personal matter. However, if the information efforts surrounding it are such that it demonstrates in any way the involvement of government bodies, this could pose a danger for Iran " 
The reformist daily Vaqae-e Ettefaqiehalso attacked the conservatives, charging that their policy had led to European condemnation. The paper wrote that although Iran's foreign policy apparatus had done all it could to bolster Iran's international status in recent years, a number of measures by radical forces at home had destroyed all these diplomatic efforts. These radical measures included the proposal that Iran withdraw from the NPT and the call to expel certain Western ambassadors from Iran. 
"Iranian Press: Volunteers Registering for Martyrdom Operations In Iraq and Israel"
" Former Iran IAEA Representative Provides Previously Unknown Information on Iran's Nuclear Activity"
Iranian Press: Volunteers Registering for Martyrdom Operations In Iraq and Israel
On June 5, 2004, the reformist Iranian daily Sharq reported on the first conference for registering Iranian volunteers for martyrdom [Shehada] operations, held recen'tly in Tehran by the World Islamic Organization's Headquarters for Remembering the Shahids. Participating in the conference were the headquarters directors, public figures, and Iranian Revolutionary Guards commanders. The following is the newspaper's report: 
'Three Options on the Form'
"There are three options on the form for registration for martyrdom operations. The volunteers can choose one: murdering Salman Rushdie, [martyrdom] operations in the holy [Shi'ite] cities [in Iraq] against the Americans, or attacking the Israeli forces in Palestine. There is also another option on the form: joining the World Islamic Organization's Headquarters for Remembering the Shahids.
"There is no need to list detailed personal information. The volunteers need fill in only their name, father's name, age, identity number, and telephone number for contact in time of need. Occupation and education were of no interest to the form's compilers; similarly, there is no requirement for organization membership in order to carry out martyrdom operations.
"According to organization spokesman Muhammad Ali Samedi, 2,000 people have so far expressed their willingness to carry out [martyrdom] operations. Of these, 25% are under 18; 55% are 18-40, and 20% are 40-80. There is no age limit on the registration forms, and the youngest registrant is a seven-year-old boy, who signed up together with his family.
"The World Islamic Organization's Headquarters for Remembering the Shahids is an NGO [in Iran] and was founded six months ago. [Its spokesman,] Muhammad Ali Samedi, who in the past has worked at the Jomhour-e Eslami, Shalamche, and Baharnewspapers, stressed that he was not interfering in the affairs of Ali Reza Alavi-Tabar, the editor-in-chief of the Bahari weekly, and was merely writing for the war section.
"About the reasons and motives that led to the founding of the organization, [Samedi] said: 'Since January 2004, when the name of Khaled Al-Islambouli Street [named after the man who assassinated Egyptian president Anwar Sadat] was changed, there has been a trend towards separating Iran from the world Islamic movements. This issue hints at a need to organize the people against this trend.' On January 6, 2004, the name of the street was changed to Intifada Street.
"The street name was a bone of contention between Iran and Egypt, and for years weighed heavily on the relations between the two countries. The name change was by decision of the new Tehran municipal council, and the vast majority of the council members were members of the Party of the Servants of the Rehabilitation of Islamic Iran. The municipal council members decided to change the name at a 45-minute meeting, at which the spokesman and the director-general for Arab and Africa Affairs in the [Iranian] Foreign Ministry were present."
About the Organization
"Most of the activists of the [World Islamic Organization's] Headquarters [for Remembering the Shahids] are correspondents for the Shalamche and Dokuheh newspapers. [Spokesman] Samedi stressed the organization's cultural nature, saying, 'The main goal is announcing that the movement in Iran is directly connected to other Islamic movements, primarily that of Palestine.'
"In answer to the question of the definition of a martyrdom operation, [Samedi] said: 'A martyrdom operation is an armed operation carried out by means of firearms or other weapons, and the volunteer carries out the operation knowing that he will become a martyr [Shahid] and that for him, there is no way back. In the martyrdom operation, the emphasis is on the element of surprise, and on hitting targets that cannot be hit by means of ordinary operations.'
"In Samedi's view, Shehada has a strictly Islamic meaning. Thus, he does not recognize the Japanese who carried out suicide operations against the Americans in World War II as Shahids.
"Samedi places the blame for the killing of civilians in Israel on the shoulders of the Israelis themselves, and accepts that perhaps in martyrdom operations civilians will be killed as well: 'We do not recognize the entity called Israel, and the Israelis, whether women and children, old or young, are occupiers.' He mused, 'Am I, as someone whose land is occupied, to blame because the enemy occupied the land with women and children?' He continued: 'As of now, and very clearly, Palestine is occupied. Salman Rushdie and the American opposition forces are targets for us, and this is true also regarding occupiers in the other Islamic countries.'"
'The Organization Collects Information on Salman Rushdie'
"The World Islamic Organization's Headquarters for Remembering the Shahidscollects information regarding Salman Rushdie, by locating his hiding place anew, and places the required information at the disposal of the volunteers for martyrdom operations. According to Samedi, Salman Rushdie recently married and is living in the U.S.
"Samedi thinks it is not the job of the Iranian Foreign Ministry to take a stand against the recruitment [of volunteers for martyrdom operations] because his organization is completely a popular one, and is unconnected to the government. Nevertheless, he says that the headquarters will become operational when the relevant elements give their approval, and he clarifies that until then, the headquarters will deal with theoretical matters [only]. Likewise, the martyrdom will commence only at the order of [Iranian] Leader [Ali Khamenei].
"It should be noted that we [i.e. this newspaper] did not manage to obtain a response from the Foreign Ministry regarding [the issue] of those seeking death as martyrs and registering as volunteers. Foreign Ministry personnel said this was being taken care of, but by Friday no response had been received from them."
The Conference Speakers
"The organization's conference was held on Wednesday [June 2, 2004] in Tehran. The first guest was Zahra Mustafavi, the daughter of Imam [Khomeini], but she cancelled for personal reasons. Kuchak-Zadeh, member of the Party of the Servants of the Rehabilitation [of Islamic Iran] in the Seventh Majlis, [the party] which is the majority in the parliament and in the Tehran city council, gave the first speech at the conference
"General Salami, head of the Revolutionary Guards' Headquarters for Strategic Operations, was also among the speakers at the conference, and spoke in military uniform. At the beginning of his address, he reviewed the strategic situation of the Middle East, and then quoted the words of [U.S. President George W.] Bush and others about the countries in the region. First, he read the words of Bush and the others in English, and then translated. General Salami concluded: 'By means of tactical events, it is possible to arrive at strategic results. Your eyes see that by cutting down two towers in the U.S., the history of the world has been divided in two before this event and after it. By means of this small event, the policy of the U.S. and of the other world and regional powers has changed. This greatly affects the U.S., such that 3% growth in the American economy drops to 1%, and unemployment increases to 5.6% for the first time.'"
The Volunteers Talk
"Mustafa Afzal-Zadeh, 24, is one of the conference organizers. He filled out a registration form for the martyrdom operations. He is a student studying English, and spent several years in England together with his father, on a doctoral scholarship. He said: 'I want to go [on a martyrdom operation] but I do not know whether I will function at the hour of truth or not.'
"Afzal-Zadeh, a bachelor, makes a living doing translations. He clarified that he is against all manifestations of technology, such as television, and is even against Iranian television. Moreover, he does not like the [institution of] schools as it is now, but concludes that this is not the time to be against everything. Afzel-Zadeh wears jeans, and is interested in entertainment like other young people, but he dressed in such a way as to appear in harmony with the other organization members, all of whom are dressed simply in a black shirt.
"Majid Sadiqi is a conference participant, and is asking the relevant bodies to provide him with the [registration] form as quickly as possible. He is 30, and works as a cleaner. During the war [against Iraq], his father resisted his being drafted to the war front, and his wife also does not really want him to participate in a martyrdom operation. On the registration form, he expresses no interest in carrying out an operation against Salman Rushdie, explaining that this is because Salman Rushdie is not that accessible, and carrying out an operation against the 'Satanic Verses'author is a difficult matter.
"He says: 'In recent years, seeing the pictures from Palestine, I have shed my bodyweight in tears.' Majid Sadiqi is willing to martyr himself for the sake of the oppressed, even if the oppressed are not Muslim. Similarly, [he said he] was pleased with the collapse of the twin towers, and thought that the U.S. had been humiliated on 9/11.
"Mrs. Rajai-Far, another conference organizer, is now one of the owners of the Sobh Dokuheh newspaper.She was with the students 'who supported the line of Imam Khomeini' when they occupied the U.S. Embassy [in 1980]. She clarified that registering for martyrdom operations is [only] a demonstration of [preparation], and that at the moment, the [ World Islamic Organization's] Headquarters[for Remembering the Shahids] was at a stage of clarifying [what is involved in the] martyrdom operations to the general public.
"She has a MA in political science, and sees martyrdom operations as a kind of imbalanced war, because the person carrying out the martyrdom operation does so using means of warfare and military options.
"According to Rajai-Far, 'the violence of the martyrdom operations is the same as the violence of war, and there is no getting around that. Although the operation's target is military, civilians might also be killed in it, and this is exactly what the Americans are doing. When civilians are killed in the [American] attacks, they blame the inaccuracy of their weapons and act innocent.'
"Rajai-Far herself has registered for martyrdom operations. She does not see attacks of this kind as terrorism operations, and from the religious point of view she relies on the words of [prominent Iranian intellectual] Mohsen Kedivar one of the reformist clerics who distinguishes between martyrdom operations and terrorism. Last Monday, Mohsen Kedivar said at a 'Human Rights In Theory And Practice' conference: 'Palestine is the place where human rights are violated more than anywhere else. If we look objectively at all countries, we see that the largest scope of human rights violations is in Palestine, both qualitatively and quantitatively. Today, defending rights in Palestine has become, in international propaganda circles, defending terrorism, but martyrdom operations are not terror operations.'"
At the Conference
"During the conference, Hamid Subzavari read some poetry, and [cleric] Hujjat Al-Islam Salamanian delivered a speech titled 'The Legal Aspects of Martyrdom Operations.' He divided martyrdom operations into two types: just and unjust. According to him, 'a group of [Sunni] muftis [Islamic jurisprudents] such as Abu Musa'b Al-Zarqawi are carrying out martyrdom operations against Shi'ites, and they do not understand [the matter of Shehada] properly. I will not refer to martyrdom operations that have engaged world thought but that essentially were aimed at creating a psychological atmosphere of opposition to the true seekers of martyrdom.'
"In another part of his speech, Salamanian clarified that 'the governments are not in a position to breathe the spirit of martyrdom into their words, but individuals can spread the spirit of martyrdom.'
"One Revolutionary Guards general who participated in the conference told a correspondent from this newspaper that just because he attended the conference does not mean he supports the organization, but that it was a kind of participation by top establishment officials in the mosques and in programs. This general maintained that since the World Islamic Organization's Headquarters for Remembering the Shahids was an NGO, it didn't have to ask permission from the military to carry out any operation. He added that their operations are like the Palestinians' martyrdom operations, and have no connection to the government of Iran.
"At the end of the conference, registration forms were distributed to those who wanted them, and the participants signed a petition warning the official [Iranian] bodies against continuing in their conservative path. Many participants wrote down their telephone numbers alongside their signatures, and some also added their email addresses.
"Ali Siadati wrote on the petition: 'My soul can no longer dwell in this body. I know that my body must explode so that my suffering spirit will lean more in the direction of God.'"
The Iranian Foreign Ministry Responds
"In answer to a question on the matter, Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi said, 'Measures of this kind [i.e. the volunteer registration for martyrdom operations] are an expression of the [Iranian] people's sentiments about the crimes of the Zionist regime and about U.S. policy. It has no connection to the policy of the [Iranian] government and the [Iranian] regime." 
Former Iran IAEA Representative Provides Previously Unknown Information on Iran's Nuclear Activity
Iran's former representative to the International Atomic Energy Agency, Dr. Ali Akbar Salehi, gave an interview to the English-language Iran Daily newspaper, which revealed new information about Iran's nuclear activities. Salehi is also a government advisor and an advisor to Iran's National Security Council. The f ollowing are excerpts from the interview: 
'What if Israel Bombs the Bushehr Power Plant?'
Question: "You will agree that our country has some very real and serious concerns about our stability and security and the threats from the U.S. and Israel. Israeli politicians and generals have given themselves the liberty to say that they "reserve the right" to attack Iran's nuclear research centers. Why hasn't the international community taken these foreign threats and our concerns seriously? Or is it that we have not done the job properly?"
Salehi: " I don't see Israel as an entity by itself. It is an extension, an arm of the U.S. in the Middle East. But more realistically, if we are threatened we too have the right to defend ourselves with whatever means available. So I personally do not take that threat as seriously as it may appear. They know what the reaction would be. I mean they have information about how strong the reprisal and reaction of Iran could be "
Question: "What do you think Iran will do, for instance, if Israel attacks the Bushehr nuclear power plant?"
Salehi:"From what I know, there are a number of means available for Iran. Should Iran decide to utilize those means, Israel would be in a very terrible predicament if it ever tries to carry out its threat. What I can say for sure is that the entire region will be in a very difficult situation.
" [According to] the understanding we had with the three European countries (France, Germany, U.K.) one of the issues discussed is freeing the Middle East of weapons of mass destruction.  That includes Israel of course, and that means putting pressure on Israel. So I think we are going to witness more international pressure on Israel.
" Mr. El-Baradei has recently raised the issue of Israel's nuclear capability and has asked the international community to put pressure on Israel to submit itself to NPT or at least to inspections by the IAEA of its nuclear facilities .
"As time passes, we will see the pressure on Israel building up "
'We Don't Want Nuclear Weapons but Nuclear Technology is Different'
Question: "Have you anything to say to those in and outside our country who strongly believe that nuclear weapons bring prestige?"
Salehi: " A country like Iran cannot have prestige by acquiring nuclear weapons Iran would raise more threats against it, not obtain security, by having nuclear weapons
"We have Russia to the north. Suppose we have a nuclear weapon. Our nuclear weapon of course will not be as good as those developed by the Russians, nor will it be able to compete with the nuclear weapons of Israel and by extension of the U.S.
" We have absolutely no problem with India or Pakistan. They are friendly countries. So there is no country surrounding us that could be an immediate or major threat. So I think the strategy of getting nuclear weapons for Iran is not a right strategy for the reasons I've mentioned above.
"But nuclear technology is different. If a country has access to cutting-edge nuclear technology, it can be proud. Take Switzerland, which has about 6,000,000 people. Can one compare this country, with the volume of knowledge and technology it has, with another country that can hardly feed its people but boasts that it has a nuclear bomb?"
'We Could Have Taken More Pragmatic, Logical and Opportune Steps Prior to the Blowing Up Of This Issue'
Question: "Consistency and transparency are the name of the game. Do you believe we have been steadfast and straightforward in our dealings?"
Salehi: " I would say that we could have taken more pragmatic, logical and opportune steps prior to the blowing up of all this issue. I think we missed some opportunities. We made the right decisions but did not make them at the right time Fortunately the country very quickly made up for this shortcoming and was able to get itself on the right path
" Iran was among the first signatories of the CTBT [Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty] 
" I was the first official in the country who [supported] the Additional Protocol. I faced a lot of criticism by members of news media and different political lobbies. As the issue progressed, others realized that it was wise to go towards the additional protocol because the entire international community was moving towards that goal " 
How Many P2 Centrifuges, What Level of Contamination?
Question: "Two major issues of contamination and P2 centrifuges remain for clarification by Iran, according to IAEA Chairman Mohamed El-Baradei. How will, or should, Iran present these for argument or evidence?"
Salehi:"Concerning P2, the IAEA inspectors in Iran have said that all the information needed by the agency was supplied to them. Therefore we think the issue is closed 
" About contamination, we have good news. The information supplied earlier by Iran, and as time passes and results of the sampling show, fortunately has been approved. For example, the 54% contamination, which was a question raised previously, has now been cleared
"The only question that remains now is the 36% which is crucial You see the 36% particles in few places in a bigger concentration than this same contamination on the centrifuge parts that we imported from outside  So we told them [i.e., the IAEA inspectors] that the centrifuge parts which we imported from abroad number in the thousands, and have come from different parts of a facility somewhere in the world, and were supplied to us through an intermediary. 
"When it comes from different parts of an installation, it means different parts or equipment may have different contaminations. So they may have sampled the parts of imported machines that were not as contaminated with the 36%, and we are insisting that they should take further samples from other parts of the imported machines, so that hopefully they will see the uniformity of the 36% contamination all across, starting from the room that they started with in Kala Electric and on the imported centrifuge parts that may have come from different parts of the installation of a previous enrichment installation somewhere in the world."
*Ayelet Savyon is Director of the Iranian Media Project
The Internal Debate in Iran: How to Respond to Western Pressure Regarding Its Nuclear Program
June 17, 2004 No.181
By: Ayelet Savyon*