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Ali Akbar Salehi Photo: Reuters
Ali Akbar Salehi Photo: Reuters

Iran's 'red line' in Syria: Use of WMDs

Tehran's FM tells Council for Foreign Relations any use of unconventional weapons by Assad would 'end regime's legitimacy'

Yitzhak Benhorin
Published: 10.02.12, 08:08 / Israel News

WASHINGTON – Iran's Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi said Tuesday that should the Syrian regime deploy unconventional weapons against civilian population, it would "lose all legitimacy."


Speaking at a Council for Foreign Relations meeting, held on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly session in New York City, Salehi said that Iran could not support any country that used such weapons, calling such a move "A situation that will end everything."


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"If any country… uses weapons of mass destruction, that is the end of the validity, eligibility, legality, whatever you name it, of that government,” he said.


"Weapons of mass destruction, as we said it, is against humanity, something that is not acceptable."


The Iranian foreign minister further said that Syrian President Bashar Assad "erred" in handling the uprising in his country.


"Some mistakes have been made, but that does not justify – in any way – outside intervention," he said.


Asked whether Iran would pressure Assad to step down, Salehi said Tehran was "Not in a position to tell the Syrian president to 'please retire.'"


Asked about Iran's atomic aspirations, Salehi denied that the Islamic Republic was pursing a nuclear weapon, citing "the American threat."


"Had Iran chosen to go nuclear in the sense of weaponization… it would attract more threats and invite more threats from the other side. Because suppose we wanted to go nuclear and manufacture one or two rudimentary bombs, who is on the other side? It’s not India and Pakistan. Seemingly, it is Iran and the US,” he said.


Salehi dismissed the notion that a nuclear Iran would destabilize the Middle East, but when asked on whether any "rational country" – including Iran – would think to challenge the United States, he answered: "Certainly not."


The Iranian foreign minister further accused Israel – without mentioning it by name – of derailing the nuclear negotiation.


"Whenever the two parties are getting close to some sort of an understanding, a mutual understanding, someone gets in the way – an imaginary third party. But we still have hope."



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