Khamenei: Israeli attack will bring "lightning" Iranian response
Published Sunday, June 3, 2012
Iran's Supreme Leader warned on Sunday that any Israeli attack would be answered with a "lightning" response by the Islamic Republic and suggested Iran's nuclear program cannot be curtailed by Western sanctions.
"Should they take any wrong step, any inappropriate move, it will fall on their heads like lightning," Ayatollah Khamenei warned in a speech marking the 23rd anniversary of the death of his predecessor, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the leader of the 1979 Islamic Revolution.
“Today, the Iranian nation is by far more powerful compared to the beginning of the revolution in terms of political power and the power to influence global developments,” he added.
The remarks echoed previous positions by Iran, but take on added resonance amid talks with the US and five other world powers.
Western leaders hope for a diplomatic accord that would ease concerns about Iran's nuclear ambitions, while Israeli officials have been pushing for a bombing campaign.
The West fears Iran could one day produce weapons-grade material but has failed to criticize Israel over its vast nuclear arsenal.
Khamenei called the claims of a secret weapons program "lies" and repeated Iran's statements that it only seeks reactors for energy and medical research.
Many military analysts say air strikes alone are unlikely to seriously set back Iran's uranium enrichment and could touch off a wider conflict in the Gulf, which is the route for about one fifth of the world's oil.
Instead, the US and Europe have imposed tighter sanctions targeting Iran's oil exports and its ability to conduct international banking.
"The obstacles enemies are creating in our path won't have any effect. Sanctions are ineffective. Sanctions can't stop the Iranian nation from moving forward," Khamenei said at Khomeini's mausoleum south of Tehran.
"The only effect these unilateral and multilateral sanctions have on the Iranian nation is that they deepen hatred and animosity toward the West in the heart of our people," he said.
Iran has called for the West to roll back the sanctions as a goodwill gesture to move ahead the nuclear talks, which are scheduled to resume later this month in Moscow.
In Baghdad last month, the six world powers – the UN Security Council permanent members plus Germany – demanded that Iran stop its most sensitive uranium enrichment in return for incentives such as civilian plane spare parts.
Iran has called for an overhaul of the latest proposals, saying it may consider suspending 20 percent enrichment only if the West commits to lift recently toughened sanctions.
Khamenei said Israel is now vulnerable than any other time with pro-US regimes fallen in the Arab Spring, and claimed the US and its allies are concentrating on the Iranian nuclear issue to "cover their own problems."