- Shahrokh Zamani and Khaled Hardani are on hunger strike
- Another civilian is sentenced to death in Khomeini Shahr
- Five Years of Imprisonment for Baha'i Leaders
- Kurdish Death Row Prisoner Transferred, His Lawyer Arrested
- Two Prisoners Executed For Espionage in Tehran
- Imprisoned Dervish Transferred to Hospital after Heart Attack
- US Congress Moves Toward Full Trade Embargo on Iran
- Israel says UN pressure having no effect on curbing Iran nukes
- U.S. Congress moves to tighten sanctions on Iran
- Iran pushes ahead with new nuclear plant that worries West
- Iran acts to expand sensitive nuclear capacity: diplomats
- CIA head visits Israel to discuss Syria, Iran's nuclear program
- Religious leaders ban 30 women from running for Iran's presidency
- Iranian cleric: Women can't be president in Iran
- Iranians marrying foreigners without state consent face prosecution
- More women smuggling drugs out of Iran
- Canada’s High Court could try Iran for Zahra Kazemi murder
- "Hole"/ Saba Vasefi
- Bahrain claims Iranian drone found
- UK: Iran, Hezbollah increasing support for Assad
- When it comes to Syria and Hezbollah, Israel is walking a tightrope
- IRGC: World now eying Iranian regime's resistance
- Two Iranians in Kenya found guilty of bomb plots
- Iran develops rocket-launcher submarine, smart ships
Wednesday 21 March 2012
AP - Tehran will retaliate against any attack by Israeli or American forces "on the same level," Iran's top leader said Tuesday in a defiant address just moments after President Obama appealed directly to the Iranian people with a message of solidarity.
The contrasting approaches highlighted the broad range of political posturing and tactics as the standoff deepens over Tehran's nuclear program.
Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, speaking on state TV to mark the Iranian new year, repeated his claims that the country does not seek atomic weapons, but said all of Iran's conventional firepower was ready to respond to any attack.
"We do not have atomic weapons and we will not build one. But against an attack by enemies - to defend ourselves either against the U.S. or Zionist regime - we will attack them on the same level that they attack us," he said, using the term that Iranian authorities often use for Israel.
Despite the hard-edged tone for most of the speech, there were hints of overtures toward America before a possible resumption of nuclear talks between Iran and world powers. He urged the United States to have a "respectful attitude" toward Iran - suggesting that could bring dividends.
Earlier this month, Khamenei gave a rare nod of approval to Washington after Obama said he favored diplomacy to resolve the nuclear dispute.
In a video message for the Iranian new year, known as Nowruz, Obama tried to reach out to Iranians, saying there was "no reason for the United States and Iran to be divided from one another." But he denounced Iranian authorities for setting up an "electronic curtain" that keeps Iranians from making their voices heard with America and the West.
"Increasingly, the Iranian people are denied the basic freedom to access the information that they want," Obama said after the U.S. Treasury Department opened the way for American companies to export Internet communications software and other materials to Iran.
"Instead, the Iranian government jams satellite signals to shut down television and radio broadcasts. It censors the Internet to control what the Iranian people can see and say. The regime monitors computers and cell phones for the sole purpose of protecting its own power," Obama added.
Obama has used Nowruz for outreach to ordinary Iranians in the past, but it's unclear how many are reached because of widespread Internet firewalls and efforts to block broadcasts such as Farsi language programs of the BBC and Voice of America. Still, satellite dishes are common - although illegal - and outside channels reach many Iranian homes.
The two nations are at odds because the West and its allies fear that Iran could use its uranium enrichment program to eventually develop material for nuclear warheads. Iran says it seeks reactors only for energy and medical research.
Obama has urged for more time to let sanctions cut deeper into Iran's economy. Israeli officials have said there is no decision yet on whether to launch a military strike on Iran's nuclear facilities.