Iran ready but says strike on nuclear sites unlikely

Date: 01-17-07

by Siavosh Ghjazi

TEHRAN (AFP) - Iran believes a military strike against its nuclear installations is highly improbable but has nonetheless taken the necessary precautions in case it is attacked, top officials have said.

"We think that it is highly improbable that our nuclear sites would be bombed but we have taken the necessary precautions even for this," said Mohammad Saeedi, vice president of Iran's atomic energy organisation, according to the ISNA agency.

The United States and Israel, Iran's two arch-enemies, have never ruled out military action against the Islamic republic to thwart its nuclear programme, which they allege is aimed at making an atomic weapon.

Saeedi did not specify Wednesday what the precautions have involved.

A report in the Sunday Times newspaper in Britain earlier this month said that Israel was already planning a small-scale nuclear strike on Iranian nuclear sites, although this was strongly denied by the Jewish state.

Iran has already been hit by UN Security Council sanctions over its nuclear programme, which it insists is peaceful and aimed at meeting the energy needs of a growing population.

Ali Larijani, secretary of Iran's supreme national security council, echoed Saeedi's comments, saying that "all the options have been taken into account".

"But this talk (of an attack) should not be taken too seriously. We think they have the minimum of intelligence not to do a thing like this," he told reporters, according to the IRNA agency.

Saeedi also said Iran would press on with its nuclear programme, even if the UN Security Council agreed even tougher resolutions against Tehran in the future.

"Even if worse resolutions are adopted, we have started our work and we will continue with it. The secret of our success is unity," he said.

"UN Security Council resolutions will not prevent the Iranian people from achieving their objectives," he added.

Iran's parliament reacted to the UN Security Council resolution by passing a law that obliges the government to "revise" its cooperation with the UN nuclear watchdog.

But almost a month after the adoption of the UN resolution, the government has yet to indicate how it intends to interpret the law and Larijani said that there were no need for over-hasty action.

"Why do you want us to react in a hurry? We have to react in a measured way. We want to act in a way that takes into account the country's national interests," he said.

Iran has nonetheless made clear it has no intention of surrendering its nuclear ambitions.

The government spokesman said Monday Tehran wanted to install "even more" than 3,000 centrifuges to enrich uranium at a key nuclear plant in defiance of the UN Security Council demand to freeze the sensitive activity.

Officials have also predicted Iran would make a major announcement on the "completion" of Iran's nuclear programme during the 10-day anniversary celebrations for the Islamic revolution in February.


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