Iran denies role in Thai attack; slaps EU oil ban
Published Wednesday, February 15, 2012
Iran denied responsibility in a bomb attack in the Thai capital, as Thailand charged two Iranians with an alleged bomb plot against Israeli diplomats on Wednesday.
A man on Tuesday hurled a grenade at Thai police in Bangkok, seriously injuring himself in the blast.
Two Iranians were detained following the attack, which rattled the city only a day after bombers targeted Israeli embassy staff in India and Georgia.
The two men have been charged with causing an illegal explosion and other offenses, Foreign Minister Surapong Tovichakchaikul said.
"We cannot say yet if it's a terrorist act," he told reporters, "but it's similar to the assassination attempt against a diplomat in India."
One of the men – named as 28-year-old Saeid Morati – had his legs blown off as he attempted to attack Thai police while fleeing an earlier, apparently unintended, blast at a house in the Thai capital, officials said.
He was unconscious but in a stable condition, according to the Bangkok hospital where he was treated.
A second Iranian suspect was detained trying to board a flight out of the country while a third suspect is believed to have fled to Malaysia.
Iran immediately denied accusations it was involved, with Foreign Ministry Spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast condemning the blasts and saying the attacks are similar to those often conducted by Israeli agents, Iranian state media reported.
The latest bombings reveal a possible covert war between Israel and Iran, with Israel widely suspected of assassinating a number of Iranian nuclear scientists over the past year.
Iran imposes oil export ban to European states
Iran announced an oil ban to six European economies on Wednesday including crisis country Greece, Iranian state TV reported.
Tehran said it would prevent sales to Netherlands, Spain, Italy, France, Greece and Portugal, a move which will further undermine the struggling Eurozone economies.
Earlier in the day Iran's foreign ministry called in ambassadors from each of the countries to discuss EU sanctions against Tehran, which are due to start in July.
Meanwhile, Iranian state television reported on Wednesday that the country had made advances in its nuclear program, building new uranium enrichment centrifuges and producing its own nuclear reactor fuel plates.
Iran has developed "fourth generation centrifuges" made of carbon fiber that are "speedier, produce less waste and occupy less space" as they spin at supersonic speeds to purify uranium, state television reported.
Iran also created its own 20-percent fuel plates for a research reactor in Tehran whose stock of fuel sourced from Argentina in the 1990s is running low, the report said.
The announcement, due to be confirmed by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad later on Wednesday, was likely to further unsettle the United States and allies who believe Iran is forging ahead with atomic weapon development.
Iran insists the program is for exclusively peaceful, civilian purposes and highlights Western hypocrisy over Israel's nuclear arsenal.
Israel, adamant to halt the Islamic republic's program, fears a nuclear Iran would threaten Israel's regional hegemony as the only nuclear power in the Middle East.
Western powers have announced new sanctions on Iranian oil aimed at undermining Tehran's nuclear program, but have so far failed to convince Asia's economic giants – Iran's main oil clients – to cooperate.
(Al-Akhbar, AFP, AP)