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Is Rafsanjani Back for Good?
by Nasser Rashidi
08 April 2004

For the Mullahs the timetable to produce a bomb is at the latest by the end of 2005.

“We should fully equip ourselves both in the offensive and defensive use of chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons.” (Ali Akhbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, former Iranian President, Middle East Defense News, 22 July 1991)

As the storm over Iran’s nuclear ambitions gathered pace in 2003, Hashemi Rafsanjani was back in action, playing a key role in coordinating the clerical regime’s response to the growing international chorus calling for Iran’s immediate and unconditional accession to the Additional Protocol to the Nuclear Proliferation Treaty (NPT). In a speech in July 2003, Rafsanjani made a thinly veiled terrorist threat against the West: “We shall respond to their aggression by striking at their heartland.”

Iran under the clerics is a state driven by an expansionist ideology. Weapons of mass destruction, and above all the nuclear bomb, are considered a necessity, not luxury. Such weapons are most effective deterrents, and at the same time serve as the best means of intimidating Iran’s less powerful and more vulnerable neighbors.

The mullah’s nuclear program began in the mid 1980s, but since the summer of 2003, the clerical leaders have been pressing the military officers and nuclear experts running their program to push ahead full steam to complete the project, now in a highly advanced stage. Reuters reported in March 2004: “In a secret meeting, the top leaders in Iran, including Supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, gathered after the father of Pakistan’s atomic weapons program, Dr. Abdul Qadeer Khan, admitted leaking nuclear secrets to Iran, Libya and North Korea, to set a timetable to produce a bomb at the latest by the end of 2005. According to a statement reported by the National Council of Resistance of Iran, referring to the US election year, the clerics close to Supreme leader Khamenei all agreed that 'because of its problems in Iraq, the United States has no choice but to go soft on Iran.' Thus, there is no resolve to refer the Islamic Republic’s file to the United Nations Security Council. This opportunity must therefore be used to produce a nuclear bomb.”

State Department spokesman Richard Boucher told journalists, “Iran admitted to constructing a uranium enrichment plant and heavy water plant only after it had no choice because this had been made public, as you know starting with an Iranian opposition group.” Ever since it was caught red-handed, the clerical regime has shifted gear from a state of complete denial to a stalling strategy designed to buy time for the completion of its weapon program. By using every device in its diplomatic armory to “divide and thwart” the international community over the mullah’s nuclear ambitions, the Islamic Republic stratagem closely resembles a diplomatic “roadblock,” as Tehran hunkers down in the face of growing international pressure, trying to draw the world community into long deliberations, while pressing ahead with its nuclear developments. Tehran's obfuscations may be confusing to the politically naive, but its unholy intentions are crystal clear to those who know Iran’s history this last quarter century. Tehran’s secret nuclear weapons program is so sophisticated that the mullahs have had a tough time covering it up.

When referring to Washington's concerns about Iran's nuclear program, opposition to the Middle East peace process, support of terrorism, and human rights abuses, Rafsanjani told the daily Kayhan on February 24, “They continue to raise these four questions, but they are stuck in the mud in Iraq, and they know that if Iran wanted to, it could make their problems even worse.”

Rafsanjani would be proved right only if the officials at Foggy Bottom chose to close their eyes to the mounting evidence of Tehran's plans to obtain nuclear arms and to use them in its quest to export fundamentalism and dominate the region, violate the rights of its own people, and punish the world. God help the Iranian people, indeed the entire world, if Iran succeeds in this insane quest. It’s time for the State Department to open its ears to the cry of the Iranian people for a regime change in Iran by Iranians.

Nasser Rashidi is Executive Director of the National Coalition of Pro-Democracy Advocates.

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