Well. I noticed that, during his interview with the International Studies Quarterly published in the spring issue, former Iranian President Ayatollah Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani commented on his oft-quoted December 2001 sermon in which he discussed Israel and nuclear weapons.
As I have said,
It seems clear to me that Rafsanjani was arguing that Israel’s current military superiority would be limited by other regional powers’ acquisition of nuclear weapons. However, some have argued that Rafsanjani was threatening an Iranian nuclear attack on Israel.
Well, regardless of what he originally meant, Rafsanjani pretty clearly said in this interview that he doesn’t want to attack Israel with nuclear weapons. I am not at liberty to post the translation, but Juan Cole posted the relevant portion at his place:
In a Friday prayer sermon in Tehran, I even once said that an atomic bomb would not benefit the occupation regime of Israel. Eventually, if one day a nuclear conflict takes place, Israel as a small country, will not be able to bear an atomic bomb. It is a small country and all its facilities would be destroyed. However, they interpreted this advice as a threat. We really believe that there should not be any nuclear weapon in the region and this is a part of the principles of our politics.
A reader pointed out to me that Rafsanjani’s office in January 2002 walked back the aforementioned part of his sermon by accusing “Zionists” of distorting his comments. I don’t think I’m at liberty to post the originals, unfortunately, but here’s the cite:
Iran: Hashemi-Rafsanjani’s Office Says Zionists Distorted His Comments (IAP20020120000016 Tehran Nowruz in Persian 02 Jan 02 16).
An always-astute reader suggested that I post the relevant portion of Rafsanjani’s 2001 sermon so that readers have adequate context. Here it is:
The colonialists will keep this base as long as they need it. Now, whether they can do so or not is a separate issue and this is my next point. Any time they find a replacement for that particular instrument, they will take it up and this will come to an end. This will open a new chapter. Because colonialism and imperialism will not easily leave the people of the world alone. Therefore, you can see that they have arranged it in a way that the balance of power favours Israel. Well, from a numerical point of view, it cannot have as many troops as Muslims and Arabs do. So they have improved the quality of what they have. Classical weaponry has its own limitations. They have limited use. They have a limited range as well. They have supplied vast quantities of weapons of mass destruction and unconventional weapons to Israel. They have permitted it to have them and they have shut their eyes to what is going on. They have nuclear, chemical and biological weapons and long-range missiles and suchlike.
If one day – changes thought Of course, that is very important. If one day, the Islamic world is also equipped with weapons like those that Israel possesses now, then the imperialists’ strategy will reach a standstill because the use of even one nuclear bomb inside Israel will destroy everything. However, it will only harm the Islamic world. It is not irrational to contemplate such an eventuality. Of course, you can see that the Americans have kept their eyes peeled and they are carefully looking for even the slightest hint that technological advances are being made by an independent Islamic country. If an independent Islamic country is thinking about acquiring other kinds of weaponry, then they will do their utmost to prevent it from acquiring them. Well, that is something that almost the entire world is discussing right now.
Now, even if that does not happen, they can still inflict greater costs on the imperialists. That is possible as well. Developments over the last few months really frightened the Americans. That is a cost in itself. Under special circumstances, such costs may be inflicted on the imperialists by people who are fighting for their rights or by Muslims. Then they will compare them to see how they could advance their interests better or what they can do. However, we cannot engage in such debates for too long. We cannot encourage that sort of thing either. I am only talking about the natural course of developments. The natural course of developments is such that such things may happen.