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Wednesday, April 12, 2006


Iran's intentions

Yesterday Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad gave a speech. The only clip I saw of him on any news show was the sentence where he declared that Iran had "joined the nuclear club." Literally every word I have heard from every talking head on TV, before or since his speech, simply assumes that Iran is embarked on a course of developing nuclear weapons, and that the only questions are "how far away are they" and "how can 'we' stop them"? I have literally not heard a single person or a single word which challenged that conventional "wisdom."

No surprise, then, that after catching Ahmadinejad's entire speech on C-SPAN (not a direct link), I was unable after considerable effort to find any kind of transcript of his complete remarks. I mean, maybe you don't believe a word he says, but shouldn't you at least want to know what he said? Since I couldn't find a transcript, I made one. Here it is; you be the judge. I should say this isn't a complete transcript, but it is a transcript of the most relevant portion. I have, I admit, left out the part where he said "Death to America, death to England, death to the infidels, death to Israel." You can take that for what it was worth too.

"Sciences and technologies thanks to the faith in God is in the service of humanity. It is science tempered by faith that serves peace and progress. We have declared on numerous occasions that we seek peace and stability on the basis of faith in humanity, in a unitary God, and in justice for the entire human race. We have declared many times, and we declare again, that our nuclear technology is in the service of peaceful goals. We declare that mass destruction weapons are sought by those who still think in the mode of 50 years ago. Those who think that political equations and cultural and economic equations can be solved to their benefit by relying on arsenals of mass destruction weapons. Our nation is a civilized nation, a cultured nation, that relies on the faith and will of its young nationals. Our nation, in order to achieve its aspiration, relies on the thoughts and beliefs and enhanced values that lie in the Islamic culture and Iranian culture. Our nation does not elicit its power from nuclear weapons. The power of our nation is rooted in the justice of its beliefs.

"We have declared and I declare again that the total sum of our nuclear activities in all phases were under the full supervision of the atomic agency, and today we also wish to stay under the supervision of the IAEA and continue our activities. What we have achieved and will achieve in the future will be in the framework of the legitimate rights of Iran and based on the universally accepted laws including the laws of our nation and the IAEA under the Non-Proliferation Treaty. We, on the basis of international rules and our legitimate rights, continue our path towards having nuclear power plants. Unfortunately, our nation in its advancement path, faces some bad temper, some law-breaking, and some coercion by some nations. Of course it is not without precedent in our history. In the movement for nationalizing our oil industry which was our legitimate right, some of these same powers stood up against us and boldly defied the legitimate rights of Iran. Of course, the product of this was a permanent hatred of them rooted in the hearts of our nation. And they today, with the same argument, with the same literature, and with psychological warfare, they try to prevent Iran's access to its legitimate rights. I advise them not to repeat the bitter experience of the past and to respect the rights of the Iranian people. I urge them not to create a permanent hatred in the hearts of the Iranian nation for themselves and in the world.

"We have declared many times and I declare here again that the Iranian progress and power will always be in the service of peace and stability for its neighbors and the entire world, and it will be such in the future."
I have to follow this transcript with just a few words about my favorite subject, "peace," because following Ahmadinejad's speech, C-SPAN broadcast a Washington Journal interview with Joseph Cirincione of the Carnegie Endowment for International "Peace." This man of "peace," while clearly arguing against an attack on Iran, or at least, an immediate one, was bound up by conventional "wisdom" lock, stock, and barrel. On the subject of of Iran's intentions, he, like everyone else, simply went on the assumption that nuclear weapons were a question of when, not if. After the host played Rumsfeld's quote (the one where AP changed "weapons of mass destruction" to "nuclear technology"), he didn't react at all, didn't point out that what Rumsfeld said was a blatant lie. And when it came to "stopping Iran," his proposal was that the U.S. should offer not to attack Iran or overthrow its government in return for Iran's stopping its nuclear program! Shouldn't someone who claims to be associated with "peace" be for the U.S. unilaterally saying it won't attack any country or overthrow the government of any country unless it is attacked and is responding in accordance with international law? As the old saying goes, with advocates for "peace" like that, who needs advocates for war?

Update: From the comments, this link to an August 10, 2005 speech (note, as the speaker does, that is in the historical context of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki on August 6 and 9, sixty years earlier) by Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, well worth reading in this context. Here's the "money quote," but there's lots more - it's a powerful, comprehensive speech:

"The Leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has issued the Fatwa that the production, stockpiling and use of nuclear weapons are forbidden under Islam and that the Islamic Republic of Iran shall never acquire these weapons."

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