Iran’s supreme ruler solidly backs Ahmadinejad’s drive for a nuclear weapon

debkafile‘s Iranian sources report that, 18 days before parliamentary elections to the majlis, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei for the first time threw all his weight and authority behind his country’s nuclear program and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. His words clearly celebrated the failure of the United States, the West at large and Israel to stall Tehran’s nuclear ambitions – whether by military force or sanctions.
Tuesday, Feb 26, the supreme ruler told Iranian officials:
“One example of an advance by the Islamic system has been the nuclear issue, in which the Iranian nation has honestly and seriously won a great victory.” For the first time, he echoed Ahmadinejad’s intransigent position and praised his role in advancing the nuclear issue as “outstanding.”
In the face of the nuclear watchdog’s latest report that questions about Iran’s possible weaponization of nuclear materials remain unanswered, Khamenei backed to the hilt the hard-line positions taken by the president and the Revolutionary Guards and their drive for a nuclear bomb and nuclear-capable missiles.
Transparently pouring scorn on the US and Israel, the supreme ruler said: “Those people who used to say Iran’s nuclear activity must be dismantled are now saying we are ready to accept your advances, on condition that it will not continue indefinitely. This was achieved by perseverance.”
The ayatollah was referring obliquely to certain Western powers including Germany which have discreetly engaged Tehran for a deal to acknowledge Iran’s nuclear achievements provided it put its military option on ice for some years.
Khamenei treated this concession, which would leave the Islamic Republic free to invoke its option at will, as a “great victory.” He was clearly crowing over US secretary of state Condoleezza Rice’s call for a third round of sanctions and Ehud Olmert’s reliance on the international community.
Khamenei’s lavish praise for the president ahead of the majlis vote was a setback for the theory held by US and Israeli policy-makers that the supreme ruler and his faction are more amenable to reason that Ahmadinejad and the Revolutionary Guards and, if confronted with a military showdown with the US and Israel, they would prefer to deal. Khamenei’s rhetoric Tuesday put paid to this illusion.
In fact, domestically, his latest statement will strengthen the radical president’s parliamentary support in the March 18 election, as well as his call to wipe Israel off the map.

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