France Considers Further Sanctions Against Iran

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France is considering further sanctions against ‘the members and support structures’ of the Iranian government over Iran’s nuclear programme, the French foreign ministry said at the weekend.

Meanwhile, Iranian leaders said Iran’s people would fight like ‘lions’ to defend the country from any American aggression, in response to US State Department threats to blacklist the country’s Revolutionary Guard by branding it a ‘terrorist organisation’.

‘We are considering additional measures, within the framework of a new Security Council resolution, against members and support structures of the Iranian regime refusing to comply with the demands of the international community,’ said French spokesman Hugues Moret. He added: ‘A certain number of measures and provisions in United Nations Security Council Resolution 1747 target the Revolutionary Guard. The Pasdaran staff have been named specifically and are subject to a freeze on their assets and restrictions on their travel. Military organisations linked to the Pasdaran are also listed in the resolution.’

But asked about Washington’s intention of adding Iran’s armed forces to its list of ‘terrorist organisations’, the spokesman responded: ‘We have not been informed about it.’

The French, American and British governments are all pressing for a third UN resolution sanctioning Iran for developing a nuclear programme – which Iran insists is for peaceful purposes – whilst refusing to demand any UN censure of Israel, which already built up an arsenal of nuclear weapons. Washington has deployed a fleet of warships to the Persian Gulf, threatening Iran.

Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinezhad visited neighbouring Afghanistan last week – to the chagrin of Washington – and was then a guest of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation that includes China, Russia and many central Asian states.

Iranian analysts said the US was engaging in psychological warfare. One expert told Iranian radio that the US intention to place the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) on its list of terrorist groups was linked to their ‘considerable problems in Iraq’. He said that the Bush regime was raising a bat against Iran in the hope that it ‘might help them gain the concessions they want’.

The expert added: ‘The IRGC is the Islamic Republic of Iran’s security and military apparatus and any action against it is an action against the Islamic Republic. It is incorrect and impractical to designate a country as a terrorist state and placing the IRGC on such a list can be viewed in the same way. Placing the IRGC or Iran on a list is considered to be a domestic issue for the United States of America. It lacks the legal authority to be defined as an international action.

‘For this reason, it would appear that the Americans will find themselves alone in this action. European and Asian countries including Russia have strenuously objected to such behaviour and the EU has even warned the US that it might lose the cooperation of the Europeans on Iran-related issues if it insists on such unilateral moves. Such an act by the Americans would not only lack the legal authority, it would also lack necessary political support.’

In an address last Friday, Ayatollah Ahmad Khatami, a member of Iran’s Assembly of Experts, said: ‘America’s decision to place the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps on the list of terrorist organisations of its State Department is yet another proud page in the honourable dossier of the Guards Corps.

‘Our Imam (the late Ayatollah Khomeini) said that when you see that your enemies are badmouthing a certain institution then this means that the organisation is effective and influential.’

Khatami added to cheers of approval: ‘The Americans ought to know that on the nuclear issue they are pitting themselves against the whole nation. And the great nation of Iran will never desert its revolutionary children.

‘I, hereby, gave this message to the Americans so that, if for any reason, they show further insanity, another quagmire will be created for them here. It is true that they will decide the entry point but the exit will not be up to them. They are entering the quagmire with their own feet.

‘Those who were trapped in this quagmire will not be able to come out and those who have fled will be served such a lesson as to know who they unwisely picked a fight with. This nation is a nation of roaring lions – men and women – who made life a misery for Global Arrogance and continue to do so.’

In his latest speech, Khatami added: ‘This day has also been designated the Day of the Revolutionary Guards. This sacred institution was born after the triumph of the Islamic Revolution in the year of 1979. Something like 28 years have passed and both in the domain of confronting foreign conspiracies and internal ones one can rightly say that it has passed with flying colours.

‘In honour of this force, the saying of the Imam (the late Ayatollah Khomeini) is quite apt when he said: “I am satisfied with the Guards organisation. Under no circumstances will I revise my views on you. If there were no Guards force then the country would not have existed.’’ ’

Khatami told his audience: ‘The dark era of the rule of the Pahlavi regime (the Shah of Iran) is a blemish on the Western countries who claim to be the flag bearers of democracy. They supported a cruel dictatorial government, despotism, medieval tortures for 50 years. Where do these supporters of democracy want to take this shame?

‘For 50 years, they supported a state that was against religion, morality, chastity and freedom. For 50 years, with their support, foreigners took the realm of the country in their hands and you, the nation, did not have any role. . .

‘After the victory of the Islamic Republic, the table has turned and the Iranian nation got rid of that servant and they isolated their masters as well. This is the real image of the Western democracy. They commit crimes under the guise of democracy.

‘Under the banner of democracy and the “Great Civilisation’’, they supported the Shah. Under the banner of democracy, they entered Iraq and nothing but killing has resulted from their efforts. Under the banner of democracy, they entered Afghanistan and the bombardment of civilians and creation of insecurity is the only fruit of this intervention. Western democracy or liberal democracy is nothing other than what you see.

‘However, this point has to be borne in mind that they think about nothing else other than exploitation and their own interests in the hegemonic system. However, one thing has happened that is a cause for happiness and celebration. The 33 days resistance of Hezbollah (to Israel’s attack on Lebanon) has left their plans in tatters.’

• The Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) Commander Saeed Yahya Rahim-Safavi has said that the present structure of the Revolutionary Guards is completely different from that of its past.

He added that because of the presence of ‘ultra-regional forces’ and the need to confront them, the change in the strategy, doctrine, training, organisation, equipment, management and command and control of forces was necessary.

In an interview with IRNA, the Iranian news agency, Major-General Safavi said the IRGC, with its five-fold forces, 2,000 km-range ballistic missiles and anti-aircraft defensive system, was among the greatest defensive powers in the region. ‘The major missions of the IRGC involve defensive, security and cultural issues and its peripheral missions are related to the construction of the country and carrying out relief and rescue operations during natural disasters,’ Safavi said.

‘In the defensive field, the IRGC has placed its forces in Iran’s critical and strategic regions such as Khuzestan, northwest, Hormuz Strait, the Persian Gulf and the three Iranian islands. The presence of forces in such areas has turned into an inherent and permanent mission of the IRGC forces.’