The statement by parliament speaker Ali Larijani July 31 that Iran can obtain nuclear and missile technology is theclosest any Iranian official has come so far to admitting his country is within reach of acquiring a nuclear weapon, debkafile's military sources report.
Further turning up the heat on Washington, the foreign ministry in Tehran announced Sunday, Aug. 1, that the three American hikers detained a year ago would stand trial for illegally crossing the Iranian border – and possibly on security charges. Shane Bauer, Sarah Shourd and Josh Fattal, who accidentally strayed into Iran while hiking in northern Iraq, have therefore become hostagesin a sharpening face-off between Tehran and Washington.
The admission warns Washington that while Iran has not yet begun building bombs, it has the technology available and more pressure through sanctions or covert operations will only tip Tehran over into warhead production. The comment also demonstrated how far Iran's nuclear and missile programs have progressed since last October when the group of five powers plus Germany challenged the Iranians to halt uranium enrichment at their negotiations in Geneva.
Yet the same demand remains on the table for the next round of talks next month, although Iran has gone way past that point and UN, US and European sanctions have been clamped down in the interim.
In response to those penalties, Larijani announced they were no deterrent, just the opposite. Last month, parliament in Tehran passed a law ordering the government to proceed with uranium enrichment up to 30 percent, which is a short jump to weapons-grade fuel.
"When the United States questions why Iran has nuclear and missile technology it is because we have the ability to obtain such technologies," he said, adding, "They (the Americans) claim that Iran has nuclear weapons but they never say a word about the Zionist regime, which is their friend and possesses nukes."
Turning to two other fronts, the Iranian Majlis Speaker said: "If the Zionist regime bullies Palestine, we will stand against it and if it decides to attack Lebanon, Hizballah will confront it."
A division of labor was thus drawn by the powerful Speaker. It commits Iran to defend the Palestinians in any future attack, while leaving the Lebanese front against Israel to its surrogate, the Hizballah.
Tehran has already laid the groundwork for the first part of this equation, forking out $250 million to Hamas for the creation of a new Palestinian Popular Army in the Gaza Strip, as first revealed by debkafile on July 31.
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Also Saturday, Brig. Gen. Masoud Jazayeri, Deputy Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff of the Iranian Armed Forces, accused Washington of stepping up its war of nerves against Iran.
"US Congress Bill 1553 which gives the hated Zionist regime a free hand to confront Iran is part of a propaganda and psychological warfare scenario coupled with military plans… to affect Iranian nuclear insiders," said the Iranian general.
Elsewhere in his remarks, he warned other nations against "US and Israeli mischievous acts in the high seas."
This was a reference to the UN sanction authorizing searches of Iranian vessels suspected of carrying prohibited freights, such as items for its nuclear production.