RAFSANJANI SAYS MUSLIMS SHOULD USE NUCLEAR WEAPON AGAINST ISRAEL

TEHRAN 14 Dec. (IPS) One of Iran’s most influential ruling cleric called Friday on the Muslim states to use nuclear weapon against Israel, assuring them that while such an attack would annihilate Israel, it would cost them "damages only".

"If a day comes when the world of Islam is duly equipped with the arms Israel has in possession, the strategy of colonialism would face a stalemate because application of an atomic bomb would not leave any thing in Israel but the same thing would just produce damages in the Muslim world", Ayatollah Ali Akbar Hashemi-Rafsanjani told the crowd at the traditional Friday prayers in Tehran.

Analysts said not only Mr. Hashemi-Rafsanjani’s speech was the strongest against Israel, but also this is the first time that a prominent leader of the Islamic Republic openly suggests the use of nuclear weapon against the Jewish State.

"It seems that Mr. Hashemi-Rafsanjani is forgetting that due to the present intertwinement of Israel and Palestine, the destruction of the Jewish State would also means the mass killing of Palestinian population as well", observed one Iranian commentator.

While Israel is believed to possess between 100 to 200 nuclear war heads, the Islamic Republic and Iraq are known to be working hard to produce their own atomic weapons with help from Russia and North Korea, Pakistan, also a Muslim state, has already a certain number of nuclear bomb.

In a lengthy speech to mark the so-called "International Qods (Jerusalem) Day" celebrated in Iran only, Mr. Hashemi-Rafsanjani, who, as the Chairman of the Assembly to Discern the Interests of the State, is the Islamic Republic’s number two man after Ayatollah Ali Khameneh’i, said since Israel was an emanation of Western colonialism therefore "in future it will be the interests of colonialism that will determine existence or non-existence of Israel".

Mr. Hashemi-Rafsanjani made the unprecedented threat as, following new suicide operations inside Israel and against Israeli settlements by Palestinian extremists in PA-controlled zones, responded by Israel’s heaviest bombarding of Palestinian cities, police, communication and radio-television installations, killing and wounding more than 200 people on both sides, resulted in the halting of all contacts between Israel and the PA of Mr. Yaser Arafat.

He said since Israel is the product of Western colonialism, "the continued existence of Israel depends on interests of arrogance and colonialism and as long as the base is helpful for colonialism, it is going to keep it.

Hashemi-Rafsanjani advised Western states not to pin their hopes on Israel's violence because it will be "very dangerous".

"We are not willing to see security in the world is harmed", he said, warning against the "eruption of the Third World War.

"War of the pious and martyrdom seeking forces against peaks of colonialism will be highly dangerous and might fan flames of the World War III", the former Iranian president said, backing firmly suicide operations against Israel.

Quoted by the official news agency IRNA, Mr. Hashemi-Rafsanjani said weakening of Palestinian Jihad is "unlikely", as the Palestinians have come to the conclusion that talks would be effective only "in light of struggle and self-sacrifice- the two key elements that gave way to beginning of the second Intifada".
Iranian analysts and commentators outside Iran immediately reacted to Mr. Hashemi-Rafsanjani’s statement, expressing fear that it might trigger an international backlash against Iran itself, giving Israel, the United States and other Western and even Arab nations to further isolate Iran as a source of threat to regional security.
"Jews shall expect to be once again scattered and wandering around the globe the day when this appendix is extracted from the region and the Muslim world", Mr. Hashemi-Rafsanjani warned, blaming on the United States and Britain the "creation of the fabricated entity" in the heart of Arab and Muslim world.

"The man who considers himself as the most able politician in the Islamic Republic utters such nonsense and empty threats at a very time that the hard line and extremist government of Israel under Mr. Ariel Sharon is looking for justification of its repressive policy against Palestinians", said Mr. Ahmad Salamatian, a veteran political analyst based in Paris.

"At a time that the right wing Israeli government is claiming that the very existence of Israel and the Jews are threatened and uses this pretext as an instrument to advance its policy of repression in Palestine, such statements and ushering such dangerous menaces by one of Iran’s top officials is nothing but bringing water to Israel’s propaganda mill, providing it with more justifications explaining its present maximalist policy", he told the Persian service of Radio France Internationale.

Though Mr. Salamatian is of the opinion that Mr. Hashemi-Rafsanjani’s words are part of both his own show and the ongoing internal tensions between conservatives and reformers, however, he also agrees with other Iranian analysts that his "untimely" menace could backfire, becoming a justification for threats against Iran, at a time that the United States and its allies are determined to continue the fight against international terrorism.

"One of Mr. Hashemi-Rafsanjani’s main characteristics in Iranian politics during the past twenty years is that in order to preserve his own position, he is ready to set fire to all the Caesareas for one handkerchief, including, in the present case, providing Israel with enough pretext to attack Iran", he noted, adding: "for the time being and what is important for Mr. Sharon is that this kind of statements are open invitation for more violence, an encouragement to extremists on either side of the Israel-Palestine conflict".

Observing that despite the fact that Israel is believed to have more than one hundred atomic warheads and the necessary technology to transport them to the very heart of Iran and elsewhere, but no Israeli official nor any newspaper have ever raised the slightest possibility of an atomic threat, "even in defence of their very existence", Mr. Salamatian wondered the reasons behind Mr. Hashemi-Rafsanjani’s declaration, which he said should be taken seriously "considering the rank of the man who pronounced it". ENDS RAFSANJANI NUKE THREATS 141201