‘ISRAEL ON ITS WAY TO COLLAPSE’ says Iranian President

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Iran’s President Mahmud Ahmadinejad said on Sunday that Israel was on its way to collapse, as Iran’s military displayed a range of home-built drones and missiles at the annual Army Day parade.

In a speech marking the event, the president also reiterated his view that the presence of foreign forces is causing conflict in the region.

‘The Zionist regime is on its way to collapse,’ Ahmadinejad said.

‘This regime is the main instigator of sedition and conflict in the region,’ the Iranian president added.

‘This is the will of the regional nations that after 60-odd years, the root of this corrupt microbe and the main reason for insecurity in the region be pulled out.

‘Its supporters and creators ought to stop backing it and allow the regional nations and the Palestinians to settle things with them,’ he said.

Soon after his speech, Ahmadinejad presided over a parade of Iranian military personnel, members of the elite Revolutionary Guards and the Basij.

While parading, the soldiers were chanting: ‘On the order of Khamenei, I will give my life!’ and: ‘Nuclear energy is our right.’

The military also displayed on the back of trucks about a dozen home-built drones, which it claims can be used for surveillance and for combat, as well as a range of missiles.

Ahmadinejad also demanded foreign forces quit the region.

‘The presence of foreign forces is the cause of conflict in our region. They must leave,’ he said, adding that Iran’s military might was enough of a ‘deterrent’ for any ‘enemy’ of the Islamic Republic.

Iran’s Supreme Leader Imam Ali Khamenei reiterated last Friday that using nuclear weapons was forbidden in Islam.

The West accuses Iran of building nuclear weapons, something Iran firmly denies.

Israel and the US have been threatening the Islamic Republic with the use of force against its nuclear facilities.

Leaders in Tehran have vowed to target US forces around Iran as well as Israel should they launch any attack against it.

A two-day Iranian-hosted international disarmament conference concluded on Sunday with a demand that Israel join the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty to assure a nuclear weapons-free Middle East.

A nuclear weapons-free Middle East requires ‘the Zionist regime to join the NPT,’ said the concluding statement of the conference read out by Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki.

Israel, which does not confirm or deny possessing nuclear arms, has refused to sign the NPT, which would require it to open up its nuclear facilities to international inspectors.

Concerning the nuclear deal, Iran said it plans to hold talks with all 15 members of the UN Security Council in an effort to break a deadlock over a nuclear fuel deal, Mottaki said.

Mottaki added the deal could be finalised in two weeks if all sides showed the necessary will.

‘In the coming days, we have plans to have direct talks with 14 members of the Security Council and one set of indirect talks with a member,’ he said, in reference to Washington, which does not have diplomatic ties with Tehran.

‘The talks will focus on the fuel exchange deal. They will be conducted by Iran’s missions in those countries,’ he told a press conference.

Mottaki said a deal was still possible. ‘In principle the issue of fuel exchange has been agreed upon . . . We think . . . details could be worked out,’ he said.

The Foreign Minister said any attack against Iran would be like ‘playing with fire’.

‘Those who think of attacking Iran are playing with fire.

‘They will very well realise the consequences of their actions,’ English-language Press TV quoted him as saying at the press conference.

‘We don’t believe they will attack. We do not see they have the capacity on the ground.’

The two-day conference followed closely behind a 47-nation nuclear security conference hosted by President Barack Obama in Washington last week, which excluded Iran and nuclear-armed North Korea.

Washington and its allies claim Iran’s nuclear programme is geared toward producing weapons, which Tehran denies.

The Tehran conference, which Iran said was attended by representatives of 60 countries, gave Tehran a platform for challenging Washington’s assertion that it wants to see a world without nuclear weapons and for defending its own nuclear programme.

It criticised what it called a double-standard by some nuclear powers that urge disarmament while ignoring the nuclear arsenal Israel is widely believed to possess.

President Ahmadinejad approved the sites for new uranium enrichment plants in Iran, a close aide said on Monday.

Ahmadinejad’s senior advisor Mojtaba Samareh Hashemi said the president had ‘approved the locations of the new nuclear sites’ and the ‘construction at these sites will start with his order’.

He said that the designs of the new plants were currently under study but did not specify how many new facilities had been approved.

In November 2009, Ahmadinejad announced that Iran would build 10 new uranium enrichment plants after Tehran announced it is constructing its second such facility near the shrine city of Qom.

Iran currently enriches uranium at a plant in the central city of Natanz.

Iranian Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani and Lebanese Foreign Minister Ali al-Shami have said all Muslim states must try to prevent Israel from ‘implementing its hostile plans’.

Their remarks came following talks on the sidelines of the Tehran conference.

Syria, Lebanon and Iraq have all backed Iran’s ‘peaceful’ atomic programme and called on Israel to be stripped off its nuclear arsenal.

Larijani described Lebanon as ‘the symbol of resistance against Israel’.

He hailed the Lebanese people’s ‘determination to fight the Israeli occupation’.

Larijani said all Muslims around the world have ‘a religious responsibility’ to fight Israel.

‘The Muslim ummah must take serious and practical steps against the immeasurable number of atrocities carried out by Israel in various parts of Palestine, especially al-Quds (Jerusalem),’ Larijani said.

Al-Shami, for his part, said the Lebanese will ‘never forget the support the Iranian people and the government’ give to the Resistance.

He slammed Israel’s housing expansion policy, saying ‘Islamic and Arab states in the region and around the world need to take a steadfast stance against Israel’s evil policies.’

Al-Shami also urged Arabs to seek punitive measures against Israel ‘instead of trying to impose sanctions on Iran’.

Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki has described the policies adopted by the West towards Iraq and Afghanistan as ‘unsuccessful’.

‘The West either cannot or will not overcome the problems in Afghanistan and either way 2010 will be a tormenting year for Afghanistan,’ Mottaki said in a meeting with his Indonesian counterpart Marty Natalegawa on Sunday.

The Iranian minister urged nuclear countries to revise their policies, saying: ‘The concerns of the world public opinion shows that it is necessary for nuclear states to reconsider their approaches.’

He said the international community had failed properly to implement the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), and accused nuclear-armed powers of proliferating weapons over the past 40 years.

Mottaki added that the production of new generation nuclear weapons and the destruction of old generation ones were another example of the incorrect approach of nuclear-armed powers toward NPT.

The Indonesian minister, for his part, described Iran as a key player in the Middle East and the world, saying: ‘We believe that the Afghan problem does not have a military solution.’

Natalegawa, who was in Tehran to attend the international conference on nuclear disarmament, went on to add, ‘The peaceful use of nuclear energy is a right for all NPT signatories.’