‘ALL-OUT AND UNCONTROLLABLE WAR’ – if West attacks Syria, warns Iranian parliament chairman

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Marchers in London opposed to any imperialist intervention against Iran
Marchers in London opposed to any imperialist intervention against Iran

A SENIOR Iranian lawmaker has warned the West against a military attack on Syria, saying such aggression will threaten the security of the entire Middle East.

The Chairman of Iran’s Majlis Committee on National Security and Foreign Policy, Ala’eddin Borujerdi, said last Friday: ‘If the West launches a war on Syria, an all-out and uncontrollable war will undoubtedly begin in the region, which will pose a serious threat to the security of the Middle East region; and its final outcome will be harmful to the USA and the Zionist regime (Israel).’

US Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel said on Friday that the Pentagon was positioning military forces as part of ‘contingency options’ provided to US President Barack Obama regarding Syria.

Hagel said: ‘The Defence Department has a responsibility to provide the president with options for all contingencies.

‘And that requires positioning our forces, positioning our assets to be able to carry out different options, whatever the president might choose.’

The remarks have been interpreted as a tacit suggestion that the USA is preparing for a military attack on Syria.

Reacting to the hawkish remarks by Hagel as well as similar comments by other Western officials, Borujerdi said that such statements, besides being threats against Syria, will also be challenging the security of the Israeli regime.

The Iranian lawmaker said that a war on Syria would be a repeat of the West’s past mistakes in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Borujerdi stated that the USA and its regional allies have so far made use of their utmost potential and utilised all levers that run counter to human rights, including full support for the terrorists in Syria, to defeat the Syrian government of President Bashar al-Assad.

The Iranian lawmaker warned: ‘In case of a potential attack, Syria will defend itself with greater unity and power; and Syria’s regional allies will not stand idly by in the face of such a potential attack.’

On 21 August, the militants in Syria alleged that 1,300 people had been killed in a government chemical attack on militant strongholds in the Damascus suburbs of Ain Tarma, Zamalka and Jobar.

However, the Syrian government vehemently dismissed the claim, saying the new accusations were fabricated to distract a visiting team of UN chemical weapons experts and to cover up militants’ losses.

Another prominent Iranian legislator on Saturday condemned the use of chemical weapons against civilians in Syria, and said that the US and its allies supply terrorists with such fatal weaponry.

A member of the Majlis National Security and Foreign Policy Commission Mohammad Reza Mohseni-Sani said: ‘The US and its allies, specially Britain, France and Germany, are the main perpetrators of such (chemical) attacks and their criminal records during the eight-year Iraqi imposed war on Iran has not been forgotten yet and tens of thousands of chemically-wounded and killed victims bear the testimony to that.’

He stressed that the western countries are both producers and sellers of chemical weapons and they supply the terrorists in Syria with the fatal weapons.

Mohseni Sani added: ‘The West is looking for a pretext in its scenario to attack Syria.’

Iran condemned US Defence Secretary Hagel’s statements that Washington is reviewing the military option in Syria, saying that foreign military intervention in Syria is banned as no international body has issued such a permission.

Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Seyyed Abbas Araqchi told the Iranian students news agency on Saturday: ‘Iran has announced many times that the Syrian crisis has no military solution and such provocative measures and comments will merely further complicate the situation in the region and create more tensions.’

‘The problem in Syria can only be resolved by finding a peaceful solution through talks,’ Araqchi said, and added, ‘Meantime, no international permission has ever been issued for military intervention in Syria.’

He also warned against any move or remarks fuelling tension in the region.

A member of the Iranian parliament’s National Security and Foreign Policy Commission Nozar Shafi’i on Saturday warned of the dire consequences of any foreign military intervention in Syria.

Shafi’i said: ‘The battlefield scene in Syria shows that after 28 months of crisis in the country, the behind-the-scene masterminds of the crisis see the future of developments (in Syria) in pushing the “diplomacy” of war.’

He warned against the dire consequences of any foreign military attack on Syria, saying: ‘Syria, which is located at the junction of the three continents of Asia, Africa and Europe, enjoys a strategic position and any military adventure against it will not only spur serious crisis in the region, but also push the westerners into a complicated energy game.’

Shafi’i made the remarks after Saudi Arabia asked Russia to refrain from vetoing a US-backed resolution at the UN Security Council which allows military attack against Syria.

Meanwhile, Russian newspaper agency Izvestiya has said that Iran plans to reach agreement with Russia on new nuclear reactors as Iran wants to become energy independent.

An article in Izvestiya last week said: ‘In the near future Tehran will sign with Russia an agreement of mutual understanding on the construction of a new AES (nuclear electric power station) in Iran.

‘This was announced by Iranian Acting Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi. The agreement (memorandum) of mutual understanding is a preliminary agreement that precedes the conclusion of a contract.

‘According to a Rosatom (State Corporation for Atomic Energy) spokesman, Moscow is ready to discuss a continuation of cooperation in the nuclear energy sphere, but so far this subject has been talked about only preliminarily.

‘Actual negotiations will start after the first reactor unit of Bushehr AES has been handed over to the Iranian side. This should happen by the end of 2013.

‘For Iran, the continuation of the peaceful nuclear programme is first and foremost a matter of image.’

‘By continuing to build AES’s, Teheran will show that its economy is doing absolutely fine regardless of pressure and international sanctions,’ Radzhab Safarov, director of the Centre for Modern Iranian Studies explained.

‘Iran wants to become the most technologically developed country of the Islamic world, but this is not possible without nuclear energy.’

The Russian newspaper continued: ‘Apart from this, the economic factor is also important – industrial production is very energy intensive, which is why electricity imports exceed exports by about 500 million kWh.

‘The authorities hope that energy from nuclear power plants will help to close this gap.

‘However, Western countries and Israel consider talks about peaceful nuclear energy merely a cover for the development of nuclear weapons.

‘And Tehran’s aspiration to enrich uranium on its own serves as the main argument.

‘In the opinion of Amos Yadlin, former head of Israeli military intelligence, large quantities of uranium enriched to just 20 per cent can subsequently be rapidly turned into weapons-grade uranium.

‘Experiencing such fears, 75 US senators led by “hawk” Robert Menendez, head of the Foreign Relations Committee, on 7th August sent a letter to President Obama demanding that sanctions against Iran be stepped up.

‘However, Tehran seems to have become used to them already. Despite the bans, sites for the construction of new reactor units are being earmarked and technical aspects are being discussed.’

‘Iran has plans to build another two or maybe even three reactor units at Bushehr AES with a capacity of 1,000 MW each,’ Anton Khlopkov, director of Russia’s Energy and Security Centre, says. ‘In addition to this, the idea to build a plant on the bank of the Karun River in Khuzestan Province is under consideration.’

Isvestiya said: ‘Currently, one reactor at Bushehr AES with a capacity of 1,000 MW and an old 5-MW research reactor in Tehran are operating in Iran.

‘At the same time, according to the nuclear energy development programme approved by Ayatollah Khamene’i, the Republic needs 20,000 MW of energy from AES’s.

Russian Radzhab Safarov says: ‘Tehran hopes that Russia will be able to build the new AES within the global standard time frame of thee-four years.

‘After the protracted construction of Bushehr AES’s first unit, Rosatom will thereby be able to prove that it can carry out work without delays.’

However, Russian experts believe that under the current sanctions regime, it will prove unrealistic to construct a new reactor unit quickly.

‘First, there is the problem of transferring money from Iran,’ Anton Khlopkov explained. ‘The average cost of building a unit is $4.5 billion.

‘At the same time, sanctions impose serious restrictions on settlements with Iranian banks. This is because the SWIFT banking system has not worked with Iran since 2012.’

‘Another problem,’ Khlopkov says, ‘is attracting subcontractors to the project. Currently, few countries dare to cooperate with Iran.

‘As the history of Bushehr showed again, governments sometimes simply force companies to refuse orders.’

In the expert’s opinion, in the light of these difficulties, it is virtually impossible to guarantee the construction of the reactor unit on schedule, which is within five to six years of the start of construction.

Tehran’s somewhat cool attitude towards Russia after Moscow’s refusal to deliver S-300 missile systems in 2010 also complicates the matter.

‘Currently, peaceful nuclear energy is almost the only field in which Iran and Russia actively cooperate,’ Safarov says.