United States Institute of Peace

The Iran Primer

Regional Leaders at UNGA: On Iran

Top officials from across the Middle East and South Asia discussed Iran during their visits to New York for the U.N. General Assembly. Some leaders welcomed the nuclear deal or proposed new dialogue with Iran while others accused Tehran of meddling in the region. The following are excerpted remarks.

Saudi Arabia
Foreign Minister Adel bin Ahmed Al-Jubeir
“The Iranian president is the last to discuss democracy in Syria. If it was not for Iran, there would not be the destruction and killing we see today in Syria. Iran supports Bashar Al-Assad by sending thousands of militants and fueling sectarianism between Sunnis and Shiites in Syria and the whole region. They recruit Hezbollah and other militias in the area and send them to Syria to defend Bashar Al-Assad’s regime.”
“[T]he problem in Yemen was due to Houthis, along with former president Ali Abdullah Saleh overthrowing the government. The Houthis have gone to war multiple times in Yemen.  Iran has relations with the Houthis, as it provides them with weapons and specialists, and Iran is one of the main reasons behind the war in Yemen. Iran is trying to fan the flames in Yemen by smuggling weapons to the Houthis in violation of UN Resolution 2216. Their last attempt was on Saturday, when an Iranian ship loaded with weapons was intercepted.  So, Iran is the last country to speak of stability and security in Yemen. Iran is one of the main reasons for what is happening in Yemen today.”
“We have previously said that it is unacceptable to use such human tragedy politically, which happened while people were performing a religious ritual.”
“The Iranians know very well that the Kingdom will do everything in its capacity to provide and facilitate visits to the holy sites in Saudi Arabia. The Iranians realize that the Kingdom is doing tremendous work for the service of the guests of Makkah. And I believe what they said contradicts the idea of sovereignty and non-interference. The Custodian of The Two Holy Mosques was clear when he ordered a thorough investigation and will hold any individual or organization accountable if found guilty. This investigation is ongoing and we will make the results public.  The Iranians are the last to speak of Hajj and pilgrims, because they have caused chaos multiple times in the past, through protests in the 80s, which resulted in a number of death due to their riots.”
—Sept. 28, 2015 in an interview with Al-Arabiya in New York

“There are parties trying to worsen and escalate the crisis in Yemen through the smuggling of arms.”
“…We welcomed the recent agreement between the group of P5+1 and the Islamic Republic of Iran, which prevents Iran from the acquisition of nuclear weapons. We also call on Iran to renounce its negative interventions in Arab affairs and we are desirous of building good neighborly relations with Iran based on mutual respect and good neighborliness and non-interference in the affairs of other countries. We also call on Iran to end its occupation of the three Arab islands of the United Arab Emirates.”

—Oct. 1, 2015, in an address to the U.N. General Assembly

President Abdrabuh Mansour Hadi Mansour
“Three years ago I found myself at this very podium before you…At that time I told you that Iran was hindering the continuance of the [peace] process and that that country was training Houthi militias and providing them with weapons—this through boats and vessels—so as to impose the Iranian model in Yemen.”
“We find ourselves mixed in this battle for the legitimacy of the State, to prevent the country from falling into the hands of Iran.”
“We shall not allow the Houthis, nor anyone else, to repeat the Iranian experience in Yemen.”

—Sept. 29, 2015, in an address to the U.N. General Assembly


United Arab Emirates
Minister of Foreign Affairs Sheikh Abdullah Bin Zayed Al Nahyan
“The UAE believes that security and stability of the states of the region depend on the extent of their positive cooperation, which must take as its fundamental pillar respect for sovereignty and non-interference in internal affairs. With regard to the statement by the President of Iran during this session’s general debate, I believe that Iran’s record does not qualify it to speak about the safety of the Hajj pilgrims and human rights, nor do its policies give it the right to refer to stability issues in the Arabian Gulf and the Middle East. The UAE stands firm with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia against any Iranian attempts to interfere in the internal affairs of the Arab States.”
“In this regard, I reiterate the United Arab Emirates rejection of Iran’s continued occupation of the UAE three islands Greater Tunb, Lesser Tunb and Abu Musa, and demand restoration of the UAE full sovereignty over these islands. We also stress that all actions and measures carried out by the Iranian authorities are contrary to international law and all norms and common values. From this platform, we renew our call to the international community to urge Iran to respond to the sincere and peaceful calls of the UAE to reach a just settlement for this issue, either through serious direct negotiations between our two countries or by referring the issue to the International Court of Justice.”
—Oct. 2, 2015, in an address to the U.N. General Assembly
Amir Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al-Thani
“The agreement between Iran and the 5+1 Group is a positive and important step. As we look forward with hope that this nuclear agreement contributes to maintaining security and stability in our region, we further demand moving forward to disarm the entire region of nuclear arms and weapons of mass destruction.”
“On this occasion, I assure that Iran is an important neighbor country, and that cooperation between it and our countries is in the interest of the region.”
“Bilateral relations between Qatar and Iran are growing and evolving steadily on the basis of common interests and good neighborliness. There is no dispute concerning bilateral relations between our two countries. At the level of the region there are various creeds and religions, but there is no, in my opinion, a Shiite-Sunni conflict in essence, but rather differences that are triggered by the political interests of countries, or the interests of political and social forces that foment internal sect-centric prejudices.”
“The existing disputes in my opinion, are political regional Arab-Iranian differences, rather than being a Sunni-Shiite disputes. This could be solved through dialogue, and initially agreeing on the rules governing the relationship between Iran and the Gulf States on the basis of non-interference in internal affairs. It is time to conduct a meaningful dialogue of this kind between countries that will always remain neighbors, and are not in need of mediation from anyone. We are ready to host a dialogue of this kind in Qatar.”
—Sept. 28, 2015, in an address to the U.N. General Assembly
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
“[A]fter three days of listening to world leaders praise the nuclear deal with Iran, I begin my speech today by saying: Ladies and Gentlemen, check your enthusiasm at the door. You see, this deal doesn't make peace more likely. By fueling Iran’s aggressions with billions of dollars in sanctions relief, it makes war more likely.
“Just look at what Iran has done in the last six months alone, since the framework agreement was announced in Lausanne. Iran boosted its supply of devastating weapons to Syria. Iran sent more soldiers of its Revolutionary Guard into Syria. Iran sent thousands of Afghani and Pakistani Shi’ite fighters to Syria. Iran did all this to prop up Assad's brutal regime. Iran also shipped tons of weapons and ammunitions to the Houthi rebels in Yemen, including another shipment just two days ago.

“Iran threatened to topple Jordan. Iran’s proxy Hezbollah smuggled into Lebanon SA-22 missiles to down our planes, and Yakhont cruise missiles to sink our ships. Iran supplied Hezbollah with precision-guided surface-to-surface missiles and attack drones so it can accurately hit any target in Israel. Iran aided Hamas and Islamic Jihad in building armed drones in Gaza.
“Iran also made clear its plans to open two new terror fronts against Israel, promising to arm Palestinians in the West Bank and sending its Revolutionary Guard generals to the Golan Heights, from which its operatives recently fired rockets on northern Israel.”
—Oct. 1, 2015, in an address to the U.N. General Assembly


Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates
“The Syrian Arab Republic would like to congratulate the Islamic Republic of Iran on its steadfastness and victory in achieving the historic agreement that fulfils the aspirations of the brotherly people of Iran, recognizes the right of Iran to use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes, lifts the sanctions imposed against it, as well as lifts the freeze on its assets, and leads to opening up of the international arena on this brotherly country. This agreement proves that the diligent and serious diplomatic approach is able to overcome all obstacles and result in peaceful and fair solutions for thorny files.”
“Imposing unethical unilateral coercive economic measures by the United States and the European Union contradicts the rules of international law and the principles of free trade. On this basis, we call for the lifting of the blockade imposed by the United States against Cuba for decades, as we renew our call to lift and stop all the unilateral coercive measures imposed on Syria and the peoples of other countries such as Iran, DPRK, Venezuela and Belarus.”
—Oct. 2, 2015, in an address to the U.N. General Assembly
Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif
“We welcome the comprehensive nuclear agreement reached between Iran and the P5+1. This shows what diplomatic engagement and multilateralism can achieve. It augurs well for the peace and security of our region and beyond.”
—Sept. 30, 2015, in an address to the U.N. General Assembly
President of the Council of Ministers
“We followed with great interest the recent agreement between Iran and the five permanent Security Council members and Germany, hoping that this development will open a new page in international relations and will mark the beginning of an improvement in the regional environments, which will reflect positively on the political situation in Lebanon.”
—Sept. 30, 2015, in an address to the U.N. General Assembly



Iranian Officials on Syria, Possible Solutions

Iranian officials have long expressed their unwavering support for Syria and President Bashar al Assad. But while some officials have said it is Iran’s duty to support the Syrian government militarily, others have stressed the importance of a political solution to the conflict. In interviews and meetings on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly opening in New York, President Hassan Rouhani said terrorists operating in Syria must first be defeated before political reforms can be discussed. But he also said that Iran “will sit down at any table with countries inside and outside the region” to discuss the conflict. Rouhani also referred to the four-point peace plan submitted by Iran’s foreign minister to Assad in August, but said Iran will provide more information after discussing it with other countries.

President Obama, in his U.N. address, highlighted American willingness to work with Iran towards a resolution to the conflict. Iranian officials, however, are suspicious of U.S. intentions in Syria and have begun to partner more closely with Russia.In September, Russia, Iran, Iraq and Syria agreed to share intelligence related to the fight against ISIS.
Russian and Iranian officials have argued that there are no prospects for a long-term military solution to the Syrian conflict. But on September 30, Russia carried out its first round of airstrikes in Syria, claiming to target ISIS. U.S. officials, however, said one of the strikes hit an area held by U.S.-backed rebels. Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif seemed to welcome Russia’s move. “It is important. It will move people to decide about the real political solution, so it [the war] comes to its end,” he said. The following are excerpted remarks by Iranian officials on the Syrian conflict, support for Assad, and the role of the U.S. and Russia in Syria. 
President Hassan Rouhani 
“Iran will use all its political power and capabilities to solve the Syrian issue and establish security and peace.” 
—Aug. 5, 2015, in a meeting with Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem according to Mehr News Agency 
"We will sit down at any table with countries inside and outside the region." 
—September 8, 2015, when asked if Iran would discuss Syria with adversaries such as Saudi Arabia or the United States, via Reuters 
“Look, in a county where a large segment of the country has been occupied by terrorists, and there is bloodshed inside the country, millions of people have been displaced, how is it possible that we fight the terrorists of this country without supporting and helping the government of that country? How can we fight the terrorists without the government staying? Of course, after we have fought terrorism and a secure environment is created, then it is time to talk about the constitution, or the future regime to talk and discuss opposition groups and supporters sit at the table, but during a situation of bloodshed and during an occupation of the country, what options exist?” 
—Sept. 20, 2015 in an interview with CBS News 
“In Syria, when our first objective is to drive out terrorists and combating terrorists to defeat them, we have no solution other than to strengthen the central authority and the central government of that country as a central seat of power." 
“So I think today everyone has accepted that President Assad must remain so that we can combat the terrorists." 
"However, as soon as this movement reaches the various levels of success and starts driving out the terrorists on a step-by-step basis, then other plans must be put into action so as to hear the voices of the opposition as well." 
“Iran, with the United States, does not have any direct talks vis-a-vis Syria. But Iran simultaneously with the European Union, as well as other countries, does have talks regarding Syria."  
"And those parties to the talks with Iran about Syria are in direct conversations with the United States as well. So perhaps not direct, but there are talks." 
—Sept. 27, 2015, in an interview with  CNN’s Christiane Amanpour
“Do we wish for the terrorists to have complete control, unabated control, over a country to hold the reins of the government of that country? Then let's imagine and picture what type of an unprecedented tragedy we will face. We do have a saying that we say between worse and bad we must choose bad, or in other words, we choose the lesser of two evils. 
“So if we leave a scenario, the composition of which we know full well, what formula will we pursue? So everyone — we have reached a conclusion that everyone must help the Syrian government in Damascus now so that the Syrian army can succeed in driving out the terrorists. Only then, the time will be at hand for the opposition to the Assad government to have a role so that they would come and, within the framework of the constitution, to hold dialogue and negotiations between the opposition and the government and to reach a conclusion, an agreement. We don't believe in having a single voice in a country; we do believe in a multitude of different viewpoints participating. 
“So what is the priority today in Syria? Is it to fight against terrorism, or is it political reforms in Syria? Perhaps political reform is needed. However, is that today's priority? We believe that it's driving out the terrorists.” 
—Sept. 28, 2015 in an interview with NPR's Steve Inskeep
“If I deem it necessary that security will be established in Syria, Iraq or Yemen, and that the people of these countries will be relieved, I would visit anywhere if necessary and talk to anyone if necessary, but it will be conditioned on this point that I be sure that it will protect the lives and security of these countries,” 
—Sept. 29, 2015, to reporters upon arrival in Tehran from New York, via Tehran Times 
Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif
“We consider the solution to problems in Syria as political and don’t see any prospect for a military solution.”  
“The Islamic Republic of Iran believes that respecting Syrians' sovereignty and self-determination through voting and non-interference of foreigners in the internal affairs of the people, especially the subject of leaderships of Syria, are issues to be decided by the Syrian people.” 
—Aug. 12, 2015, in a meeting in Damascus, via Fars News Agency 
“It is time for the other players and our neighbors to take note of reality, listen to the demands of the Syrian people and work for combatting extremism and terrorism." 
—Aug. 12, 2015, after talks with Bashar al-Assad, according to The Associated Press
“Those who have set a condition about the Syrian president in the past two years should be blamed for the continued war and they should account for the bloodshed in the past few years.”  
—Sept. 7, 2015, in a press conference according to Fars News Agency via Iran Front Page 
“Peace will not return to Syria with the slogans we are hearing from Syria's neighboring countries.” 
[Whether Assad stays or goes is a] “decision for the Syrian people to make.” 
Sept. 7, 2015, at a press conference via The Associated Press 
“Putting aside any of the regional players would just delay the resolution of crisis,” 
Sept. 23, 2015, in a meeting with the President of the UNGA via Tasnim News 
“[To set] irrational preconditions to end the Syria crisis would prolong the crisis,” 
—Sept. 29, 2015 in a meeting with Croatian Foreign Minister Vesna Pusic at the UNGA via PressTV 
Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Marziyeh Afkham
With regards to the official request by the Syrian government from the Russian Federation, the Islamic Republic of Iran considers Russia’s military action against armed terrorist groups in Syria as a step toward the fight on terrorism and the resolution of the ongoing crisis that has resulted from it [terrorism].”
—Oct. 1, 2015, according to Press TV
Deputy Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian 
“Simultaneous with all-out cooperation with neighbors and regional countries, Iran will continue to firmly support its regional allies.” 
Aug. 4, 2015, in reference to Syria, according to Fars News Agency 
"Political solution is the only way to put an end to the Syrian crisis and Bashar Assad is part of that solution." 
Sept. 2, 2015, in Beirut according to Fars News Agency 
"Any successful plan to find a solution to the Syrian crisis must take into consideration the central role of the Syrian people in deciding their future and fate, and the role of the government and of Assad are essential and pivotal in the potential solution," 
Sept. 3, 2015, at a news conference in Damascus via Yahoo News 
“Iran and Russia are the serious and main partners in a peaceful settlement of the crisis in Syria, and emphasize that Bashar al-Assad, the legitimate president of this country, should be part of the negotiations about Syria’s political future,” 
Sept. 22, 2015, in Moscow via PressTV 
"We hope that the US could understand that the realities on the ground in Syria by adopting a realistic approach towards that country; we are waiting for Washington's change of attitude in this regard." 
"If Washington in real sense supports political solution to the Syrian crisis and shows seriousness in fighting terrorism such behavior will be useful for the regional and international security." 
Sept. 23, 2015 to reporters in Moscow via Fars News Agency 
Chief of Staff to President Rouhani, Mohammad Nahavandian 
“The position of the Islamic Republic of Iran has always been that fighting terrorism should come as the first priority for regional issues. And that can be another platform if the sincerity of all sides can be shown in action.” 
Sept. 26, 2015 on future cooperation between the U.S. and Iran via Al-Monitor  
Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani 
“The Islamic Republic of Iran feels duty-bound to back the Syrian government and nation until the ground is prepared for dialog and peace in Syria.” 
—Sept. 1, 2015, in a meeting with Speaker of the Syrian People’s Assembly Mohammad Jihad-al-Laham in New York, via PressTV 
“The Islamic Republic of Iran continues its support for Syria and believes that, with a novel political strategy and initiative, Syrian leaders should be given the opportunity to solve their domestic problems and overcome the terrorists,” 
—Sept. 16, 2015 in a meeting with Syrian Ambassador to Tehran Adnan Mahmoud according to PressTV 
Ali Akbar Velayati, Supreme Leader’s advisor for international affairs 
“No one can save Syria from this situation like Assad and the UN Security Council members as well as the neighboring and regional states should try to find a solution.” 
—Sept. 7, 2015, after a meeting with Spanish Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Garcia-Margallo in Tehran according to Fars News Agency via Iran Front Page 
Mohammed Reza Shaybani, Iranian ambassador to Syria 
“We have to respect Syria’s national sovereignty and territorial integrity…Iran does not interfere in Syrian domestic affairs. Our relations are historical and strategic. Our role is limited to consultation with the Syrian government for the sake of combating terrorism.” 
“We provide advice to the Syrian government and the Syrian army…It is natural that that requires us to see reality on the ground. The military advisers need to have a clear understanding of the situation on the battlefield. That does not mean that we have a lot of troops in Syria; we do not have a direct role in the fighting.” 
—Sept. 21, 2015, in an interview with The Guardian 

Netanyahu at UNGA: On Iran, Syria

On October 1, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu criticized the nuclear deal with Iran during his address to the U.N. General Assembly. “By fueling Iran’s aggressions with billions of dollars in sanctions relief, it makes war more likely,” he said. He also spoke at length about Iran’s policies in the region and support for proxies like Hezbollah in Lebanon. The following is an excerpt from his speech.  

Thirty-one years ago, as Israel’s Ambassador to the United Nations, I stood at this podium for the first time.
I spoke that day against a resolution sponsored by Iran to expel Israel from the United Nations. 
Then as now, the UN was obsessively hostile towards Israel, the one true democracy in the Middle East.
Then as now, some sought to deny the one and only Jewish state a place among the nations.
I ended that first speech by saying: 
Gentlemen, check your fanaticism at the door.
More than three decades later, as the Prime Minister of Israel, I am again privileged to speak from this podium.
And for me, that privilege has always come with a moral responsibility to speak the truth.
So after three days of listening to world leaders praise the nuclear deal with Iran, I begin my speech today by saying: 
Ladies and Gentlemen, check your enthusiasm at the door.
You see, this deal doesn't make peace more likely. 
By fueling Iran’s aggressions with billions of dollars in sanctions relief, it makes war more likely.
Just look at what Iran has done in the last six months alone, since the framework agreement was announced in Lausanne.
Iran boosted its supply of devastating weapons to Syria.
Iran sent more soldiers of its Revolutionary Guard into Syria. Iran sent thousands of Afghani and Pakistani Shi’ite fighters to Syria.
Iran did all this to prop up Assad's brutal regime.
Iran also shipped tons of weapons and ammunitions to the Houthi rebels in Yemen, including another shipment just two days ago.
Iran threatened to topple Jordan.
Iran’s proxy Hezbollah smuggled into Lebanon SA-22 missiles to down our planes, and Yakhont cruise missiles to sink our ships.
Iran supplied Hezbollah with precision-guided surface-to-surface missiles and attack drones so it can accurately hit any target in Israel.
Iran aided Hamas and Islamic Jihad in building armed drones in Gaza.
Iran also made clear its plans to open two new terror fronts against Israel, promising to arm Palestinians in the West Bank and sending its Revolutionary Guard generals to the Golan Heights, from which its operatives recently fired rockets on northern Israel.
Israel will continue to respond forcefully to any attacks against it from Syria.
Israel will continue to act to prevent the transfer of strategic weapons to Hezbollah from and through Syrian territory.
Every few weeks, Iran and Hezbollah set up new terror cells in cities throughout the world. Three such cells were recently uncovered in Kuwait, Jordan and Cyprus.
In May, security forces in Cyprus raided a Hezbollah agent’s apartment in the city of Larnaca. There they found five tons of ammonium nitrate, that's roughly the same amount of ammonium nitrate that was used to blow up the federal building in Oklahoma City.
And that’s just in one apartment, in one city, in one country.
But Iran is setting up dozens of terror cells like this around the world, ladies and gentlemen, they're setting up those terror cells in this hemisphere too.
I repeat: Iran’s been doing all of this, everything that I've just described,  just in the last six months, when it was trying to convince the world to remove the sanctions.
Now just imagine what Iran will do after those sanctions are lifted.
Unleashed and un-muzzled, Iran will go on the prowl, devouring more and more prey.
In the wake of the nuclear deal, Iran is spending billions of dollars on weapons and satellites.
You think Iran is doing that to advance peace?
You think hundreds of billions of dollars in sanctions relief and fat contracts will turn this
rapacious tiger into a kitten?
If you do, you should think again.
In 2013 president Rouhani began his so-called charm offensive here at the UN. Two years later, Iran is executing more political prisoners, escalating its regional aggression, and rapidly expanding its global terror network.
You know they say, actions speak louder than words.
But in Iran’s case, the words speak as loud as the actions.
Just listen to the Deputy Commander of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Quds Force. Here's what he said in February:
“The Islamic revolution is not limited by geographic borders….” He boasted that Afghanistan, Iraq, Lebanon, Syria, Palestine and Yemen are among the countries being “conquered by the Islamic Republic of Iran.”
And for those of you who believe that the deal in Vienna will bring a change in Iran’s policy, just listen to what Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei said five days after the nuclear deal was reached: “Our policies towards the arrogant government of the United States will not change.”
The United States, he vowed, will continue to be Iran’s enemy.
While giving the mullahs more money is likely to fuel more repression inside Iran, it will definitely fuel more aggression outside Iran.
As the leader of a country defending itself every day against Iran’s growing aggression, I wish I could take comfort in the claim that this deal blocks Iran’s path to nuclear weapons.
But I can’t, because it doesn’t.
This deal does place several constraints on Iran’s nuclear program.
And rightly so, because the international community recognizes that Iran is so dangerous.
But you see here’s the catch:
Under this deal, If Iran doesn’t change its behavior, In fact, if it becomes even more dangerous in the years to come, the most important constraints will still be automatically lifted by year 10 and by year 15.
That would place a militant Islamic terror regime weeks away from having the fissile material for an entire arsenal of nuclear bombs.
That just doesn’t make any sense.
I’ve said that if Iran wants to be treated like a normal country, let it act like a normal country.
But this deal, this deal will treat Iran like a normal country even if it remains a dark theocracy that conquers its neighbors, sponsors terrorism worldwide and chants “Death to Israel”, “Death to America.”
Does anyone seriously believe that flooding a radical theocracy with weapons and cash will curb its appetite for aggression?
Do any of you really believe that a theocratic Iran with sharper claws and sharper fangs will be more likely to change its stripes?
So here's a general rule that I've learned and you must have learned in your life time - When bad behavior is rewarded, it only gets worse.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I have long said that the greatest danger facing our world is the coupling of militant Islam with nuclear weapons.
And I’m gravely concerned that the nuclear deal with Iran will prove to be the marriage certificate of that unholy union.
I know that some well-intentioned people sincerely believe that this deal is the best way to block Iran’s path to the bomb.
But one of history’s most important yet least learned lessons is this:
The best intentions don’t prevent the worst outcomes.
The vast majority of Israelis believe that this nuclear deal with Iran is a very bad deal.
And what makes matters even worse is that we see a world celebrating this bad deal, rushing to embrace and do business with a regime openly committed to our destruction.
Last week, Major General Salehi, the commander of Iran’s army, proclaimed this:
“We will annihilate Israel for sure.”
“We are glad that we are in the forefront of executing the Supreme Leader’s order to destroy Israel.”
And as for the Supreme Leader himself, a few days after the nuclear deal was announced, he released his latest book.
Here it is.
It’s a 400-page screed detailing his plan to destroy the State of Israel.
Last month, Khamenei once again made his genocidal intentions clear before Iran's top clerical body, the Assembly of Experts.
He spoke about Israel, home to over six million Jews.
He pledged, “there will be no Israel in 25 years.”
Seventy years after the murder of six million Jews,
Iran’s rulers promise to destroy my country.
Murder my people.
And the response from this body, the response from nearly every one of the governments represented here has been absolutely nothing!
Utter silence!
Deafening silence.
Perhaps you can now understand why Israel is not joining you in celebrating this deal.
If Iran’s rulers were working to destroy your countries, perhaps you’d be less enthusiastic about the deal. 
If Iran’s terror proxies were firing thousands of rockets at your cities, perhaps you’d be more measured in your praise.
And if this deal were unleashing a nuclear arms race in your neighborhood, perhaps you’d be more reluctant to celebrate.
But don’t think that Iran is only a danger to Israel.
Besides Iran’s aggression in the Middle East and its terror around the world, Iran is also building intercontinental ballistic missiles whose sole purpose is to carry nuclear warheads.
Now remember this: Iran already has missiles that can reach Israel.
So those intercontinental ballistic missiles that Iran is building - they're not meant for us –
They’re meant for you.
For Europe.
For America.
For raining down mass destruction – anytime, anywhere.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It’s not easy to oppose something that is embraced by the greatest powers in the world.
Believe me, it would be far easier to remain silent.
But throughout our history, the Jewish people have learned the heavy price of silence.
And as the Prime Minister of the Jewish State, as someone who knows that history,
I refuse to be silent.
I’ll say it again:
The days when the Jewish people remained passive in the face of genocidal enemies –
those days are over.
Not being passive means speaking up about those dangers.
We have. We are.
We will.
Not being passive also means defending ourselves against those dangers.
We have. We are.
And we will.
Israel will not allow Iran to break-in, to sneak-in or to walk-in to the nuclear weapons club. 
I know that preventing Iran from developing nuclear weapons remains the official policy of the international community.
But no one should question Israel’s determination to defend itself against those who seek our destruction.
For in every generation, there were those who rose up to destroy our people.
In antiquity, we faced destruction from the ancient empires of Babylon and Rome.
In the Middle Ages, we faced inquisition and expulsion.
And In modern times, we faced pogroms and the Holocaust.
Yet the Jewish people persevered.
And now another regime has arisen, swearing to destroy Israel.
That regime would be wise to consider this:
I stand here today representing Israel, a country 67 years young,
but the nation-state of a people nearly 4,000 years old.
Yet the empires of Babylon and Rome are not represented in this hall of nations.
Neither is the Thousand Year Reich. 
Those seemingly invincible empires are long gone.  
But Israel lives.
The people of Israel live.
The re-birth of Israel is a testament to the indomitable spirit of my people.
For a hundred generations, the Jewish people dreamed of returning to the
Land of Israel.
Even in our darkest hours, and we had so many, even in our darkest hours we never gave up hope of rebuilding our eternal capital Jerusalem. 
The establishment of Israel made realizing that dream possible.
It has enabled us to live as a free people in our ancestral homeland.
It's enabled us to embrace Jews who've come from the four corners of the earth to find refuge from persecution.
They came from war-torn Europe, from Yemen, Iraq, Morocco, from Ethiopia and the Soviet Union, from a hundred other lands.
And today, as a rising tide of anti-Semitism once again sweeps across Europe and elsewhere, many Jews come to Israel to join us in building the Jewish future.
So here’s my message to the rulers of Iran:
Your plan to destroy Israel will fail.
Israel will not permit any force on earth to threaten its future. 
And here's my message to all the countries represented here:
Whatever resolutions you may adopt in this building, whatever decisions you may take in your capitals, Israel will do whatever it must do to defend our state and to defend our people.
Distinguished delegates,
As this deal with Iran moves ahead, I hope you’ll enforce it…how can I put this? With a little more rigor than you showed with the six Security Council resolutions that Iran has systematically violated and which now have been effectively discarded.
Make sure that the inspectors actually inspect.
Make sure that the snapback sanctions actually snap back.
And make sure that Iran’s violations aren’t swept under the Persian rug.
Well, of one thing I can assure you:
Israel will be watching… closely.
What the international community now needs to do is clear:
First, make Iran comply with all its nuclear obligations.
Keep Iran’s feet to the fire.
Second, check Iran’s regional aggression.
Support and strengthen those fighting Iran’s aggression, beginning with Israel.
Third, use sanctions and all the tools available to you to tear down Iran’s global terror network.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Israel is working closely with our Arab peace partners to address our common security challenges from Iran and also the security challenges from ISIS and from others.
We are also working with other states in the Middle East as well as countries in Africa, in Asia and beyond.
Many in our region know that both Iran and ISIS are our common enemies.
And when your enemies fight each other, don’t strengthen either one – weaken both.
Common dangers are clearly bringing Israel and its Arab neighbors closer. 
And as we work together to thwart those dangers, I hope we'll build lasting partnerships – lasting partnerships for security, for prosperity and for peace.   
But in Israel, we never forget one thing. We never forget that the most important partner that Israel has has always been, and will always be, the United States of America.
The alliance between Israel and the United States is unshakeable.
President Obama and I agree on the need to keep arms out of the hands of Iran’s terror proxies.
We agree on the need to stop Iran from destabilizing countries throughout the Middle East.
Israel deeply appreciates President Obama’s willingness to bolster our security, help Israel maintain its qualitative military edge and help Israel confront the enormous challenges we face.
Israel is grateful that this sentiment is widely shared by the American people and its representatives in Congress, by both those who supported the deal and by those who opposed it.
President Obama and I have both said that our differences over the nuclear deal are a disagreement within the family.
Tags: Israel

Iran & Saudi Arabia: New Tensions on Hajj

Tensions began escalating between Iran and Saudi Arabia after a stampede in Mina, Saudi Arabia, killed and injured pilgrims completing a hajj ritual. Saudi officials reported that 769 people had been killed, but Iranian officials estimate the death toll could be as high as 4,700 – including some 464 Iranians. The hajj is the annual Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca, which all Muslims are expected to complete once in their lifetime. Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei blamed Saudi Arabia for the stampede, calling on the government to “accept its heavy responsibility in this bitter event.” President Hassan Rouhani, who had been in New York for the U.N. General Assembly, cut his trip short and returned to Tehran on September 28. He accused the Saudi government of a "lack of proper management" and set up a task force to investigate the incident.

The stampede was the second major incident causing tensions between the two governments over the hajj, but Tehran had been trying to better relations with kingdom since Rouhani’s election in 2013. In 1987, Iranian pilgrims clashed with Saudi security forces in Mecca. More than 400 people were killed, including 275 Iranians. In response, Iranian protesters attacked the Saudi and Kuwaiti embassies in Tehran.
The following are excerpted remarks from Iranian officials on the Mina stampede.
Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei
Today's catastrophic event in Mina, during which a large number of God's guests and believers who had migrated towards God from different countries lost their lives, caused great sorrow in the world of Islam and turned their Eid into mourning. In our dear country too, tens of families, who were eagerly waiting for their dear ones to return from their hajj pilgrimage, are now mourning for them.
With a sorrow-stricken heart and sympathy towards the bereaved, I offer my condolences on the occasion of this grievous event - to the immaculate soul of the Great Messenger (God's greetings be upon him and his household), to the holy presence of God's Wali, the Imam of the Age (may our souls be sacrificed for him) who is the principle mourner of this tragedy, to all the families of the deceased and to all mourners throughout the world of Islam particularly in dear Iran.
I ask God the Forgiving, the Merciful, and the Rewarding to bestow His special mercy on these honorable guests of His and to help, with His kindness, the injured to recover as soon as possible.
I would like to point out the following matters:
1. My representatives and the Hajj Organization should continue their strenuous effort - as they did throughout today - to identify the deceased, to cure the injured, to return them back to the country, and to provide the public with information in this regard as quickly as possible. And all people who can help them in this effort should do so.
2. They should also extend their help to pilgrims from other countries in whatever ways they can and they should fulfill their brotherly and Islamic obligation towards them.
3. The Saudi government should accept its heavy responsibility in this bitter event and it should meet its obligations based on the principles of truth and fairness. The mismanagement and improper measures that caused this catastrophe should not be overlooked.
4. By Allah's favor, those who lost their lives in this event are among those mentioned in this enlightened Quranic ayah: "He who forsakes his home in the cause of Allah, finds in the earth many a refuge, wide and spacious. Should he die as a refugee from home for Allah and His Messenger, His reward becomes due and sure with Allah" [The Holy Quran, 3: 100].
This is a great comfort for the families of the deceased. They rushed towards the Worshipped after doing tawaf, endeavoring in the way of God and spending the blessed hours of Arafat and Mash'ar and while performing hajj rituals. For this reason, they will benefit from the One's grace and mercy.
With my condolences once again to the mourners, I declare three days of national mourning in the country.
—Sept. 24, 2015, in a statement

“Ignorance of the time turned our Festive Day into grief by Mina deadly tragedy. May God accept these sacrifices and devotions from Muslim nations. Using advanced militray equipment, they bombard Yemeni people, yet they fail to act when humanity demands and show their courage only when facing the defenseless people."

“Saudi officials fail to do their duties and act against their responsibilities and show slyness in some cases; if Iran wants to react, Saudi Arabia’s conditions will not be good. In case of reaction, our response will be firm and severe."

“Saudi Arabia evades its duties in helping transfer of corpses of Hajj pilgrims; however, the Islamic Republic of Iran has been self-restraint observing principles of Islamic ethics and the spirit of fraternity in the Islamic world; they should understand though that disrespect of tens of thousands of Iranian pilgrims in Mecca and Medina would precipitate Iran’s ‘severe and strong’ reaction."

—Sept. 30, 2015, in a speech to army cadets



President Hassan Rouhani



The grieving news of the catastrophe of deaths and injuries of over 200 Iranian pilgrims during the Hajj pilgrimage caused a deep grief among me and my accompanying delegation. The passing of our pilgrims in their way to become closer to the Almighty Allah is the clear evidence of the verse of Quran saying “He who leaves his home to get closer to Allah,…he shall reward him”. Without a doubt, the declaration of three days of national mourning [by the Supreme Leader] clearly indicates the depth of the catastrophe and that is the least expressed sympathy of the government and the Iranian nation towards the bereaved families.
I express my deepest condolences over the heart-breaking Mina incident to Imam Mahdi (AS), the grieving families, the Supreme Leader, and the noble Iranian nation. I ask my First Vice-President Mr Jahangiri to form a special committee of addressing the incident and gather the required facilities immediately, and take the following actions and frequently report to the Iranian nation and me:
1.  To dispatch rescue teams and send airplanes to Saudi Arabia if necessary, handling the affairs of the pilgrims and the injured, and transferring the bodies of the dead back to the country and prioritise these measures. It is of chief importance that dear pilgrims feel that they can continue their rituals in peace and security, and return home based on their schedule.
2.  To call on the Governor-Generals to visit the families of the injured and the dead in order to convey my condolences, and deliver the necessary assistance and adequate facilities in dealing with the issue as soon as possible.
3.  The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the ambassador to Saudi Arabia are required to probe into the incident and take all necessary actions to the rights of the dead and the injured. I also demand that the Saudi government take the responsibility of the mishap and carry out its Islamic and legal duties.
Expressing my condolences to the families of the victims, I ask for mercy from Allah for the dead, swift recovery for the injured, and accepted hajj for the pilgrims accompanied with a safe return to their homes.
—Sept. 25, 2015, in a statement
“We demand Saudi Arabia’s cooperation with Iranian Hajj Headquarters and the Supreme Leader’s permanent delegation to Mecca and Medina in order to deliver medical help to Iranian pilgrims.”
“I have tasked the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to contact the Saudi authorities and take necessary actions.”
—Sept. 25, 2015, in remarks to the press
"Saudi Arabia should act upon its legal and international responsibilities vis a vis the foreign nationals and Hajj pilgrims and the aspects of the incident should be clarified precisely.”
"The Saudi media display animations instead of showing the footages of reality (of what happened in Mina), and this is an insult to the Islamic societies.”
—Sept. 29, 2015, according to the press
"If we can change the dynamics and establish good relations between us and Saudi Arabia it will certainly benefit everyone involved. These days, though, it is important to keep in mind that our conditions have become much tougher, because a number of our pilgrims to Hajj were killed in Mina. Thus far 170 Iranian pilgrims have been killed. Dear lives, precious lives, lost.
"This lack of proper management, responsible management, of the Hajj pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia is extremely sad. We do not know all of the underlying causes, the root causes, so we do not want to pass judgement. But the Saudi Arabian government has made itself quite occupied and concerned elsewhere – Syria, Yemen, the region as whole – and it seems to have forgotten Mecca itself, how to manage it. It seems to have forgotten Mina. It seems to have forgotten the millions of pilgrims that every year go to their country."
—Sept. 27, 2015, in a meeting with American think tanks, academics, and NGOs
Secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council Ali Shamkhani
"The weak management of the Saudi government and lack of capability of the Saudi Hajj officials have certainly been the cause of the tragic incident in Mina.”
"The change in Saudi Arabia's security preferences and seeing its security in the war on the Yemeni people and helping the Al Khalifa in suppressing the Bahraini people have played important roles in the emergence of this tragedy.”
—Sept. 25, 2015, according to the press
Senior Advisor to the Supreme Leader Ali Akbar Velayati
"What has happened is suspicious because some high-ranking technical, scientific and political figures of the Islamic Republic of Iran have gone missing or been martyred in the incident and the Saudi government should account for the event.”
—Sept. 29, 2015, according to the press

Deputy Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian
Abdollahian also called "Riyadh's negligence inexcusable" and announced a committee has been established to look into the incident.
—Sept. 25, 2015, according to the press

Head of the Judiciary Sadeq Amoli Larijani
“The Saudi government could not easily free itself from the heavy burden and responsibility of the Mina incident; the event is extremely terrible in terms of the scope of the fatalities, and all Islamic countries should devise effective measures to prevent the repetition of similar issues in the future. Contrary to the ongoing trend where Hajj pilgrims received improved services and better facilities, in recent years, the problems stymied the process, with insecurities rising considerably.”
“Saudis’ attribution of the event to heavenly preordained affairs is mere an attempt to bring other strange and ludicrous causes into the event; the real issue is their sheer incompetence in meeting the challenges on Hajj pilgrims’ security, while the heavenly providence has been on the place; Islamic countries would not easily close the case, and the bitter memory of the event will linger on for years to come.”
“The event indicates that Saudi officials are among the most irresponsible and heedless officials ever to rule a country; they should compensate for all aspects of the disaster; the general expectation from a ‘strong government’ is to transparently address all facets of the event, and bring the perpetrators and contributors to justice, along with providing apologies to the multitudes of pilgrims’ families.”
—Sept. 29, 2015, in a meeting with judiciary officials
Chairman of the Expediency Council Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani
“The officials in the Saudi government in charge of maintaining order in this huge ritual are responsible for the incident and should be accountable to the Muslims.”
—Sept. 25, 2015, according to the press
Deputy Chief of Staff of the Iranian Armed Forces Brigadier General Massoud Jazayeri 
"Given the usurper Zionist regime's infiltration and influence on the al-Saud, there is a growing possibility that the crane crash incident at the Grand Mosque (in the holy city of Mecca) and the death of thousands of people in Mina were the result of deliberate crime.”
—Sept. 29, 2015, according to the press
"In the very first hours after the Mina catastrophe, the country’s armed forces expressed their readiness to provide any (necessary) assistance to the relevant bodies and are fully prepared at the moment, too."
“The Islamic Republic of Iran’s armed forces are ready to perform any mission in this regard."
—Sept. 30, 2015, according to the press
Interior Minister Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli
"As Iran's interior minister I ask you to order the concerned Saudi Hajj officials to do their utmost cooperation with the Iranian relief workers stationed in Mecca and Mina to organize the affairs of the Iranian pilgrims.”
—Sept. 25, 2015, in a letter to Saudi Interior Minister Mohammad Bin Nayef
Head of Iran’s Hajj and Pilgrimage Organization Saeed Ohadi
"This year's hajj ceremony was disorganized as the Saudi government had hired young and inexperienced people.”
—Sept. 25, 2015, according to the press

Head of Parliament’s National Security Committee Alaeddin Boroujerdi
“It’s not the first time that the Saudi government has shown its incompetence during the hajj.”
“Two tragic incidents have taken place in a short time, the Saudi government is not capable of managing hajj pilgrimage.”
—Sept. 25, 2015, according to the press

Supreme Leader’s Representative on Hajj Affairs Seyed-Ali Ghaziaskar
“This incident is unprecedented in the history of hajj. Saudi officials do not let our medical team and doctors to reach the affected areas and hospitals to help.”
—Sept. 25, 2015, according to the press
Government Spokesman Mohammad Baqer Nobakht

"The Saudi government has nothing to say and that's why the foreign minister of this country goes into hiding and does not speak with our foreign minister, so we are forced to use other means at our disposal to solve this problem."
—Sept. 30, 2015, according to the press
Minister of Intelligence Seyyed Mohammad Alavi
"The negligence of Al Saud rulers caused this incident and the unwise conduct that they displayed after the Mina tragedy gave this tragedy the appearance of a crime and Muslim world will not forgive them for their behavior."
—Sept. 30, 2015, according to the press


Judiciary Spokesperson Gholamhossein Mohseni Ejei

"The Saudi rulers cannot shrug off responsibility for the Mina tragedy and they should be accountable for what happened in Mina last Thursday."

"All material and emotional losses of the Mina incident should be compensated for."
—Sept. 30, 2015, in a speech to Basij forces


Obama & Zarif: Controversial Handshake

On September 28, President Barack Obama shook hands with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly in New York. The exchange, confirmed by U.S. and Iranian officials, lasted less than minute. But it caused a firestorm among hardliners in Iran. Lawmaker Hamid Rasaee likened the encounter to shaking hands with Satan in an Instagram post (see below). The top line of text reads, “Mr. Zarif! Did you sign the nuclear deal with the same hand?”

Mansour Haghighatpour, a lawmaker and member of Parliament’s special committee to review the nuclear deal, said that he hoped the report was false. “If Mr. Zarif has done such a thing, he has definitely ignored the system's red lines,” he said, according to Tasnim News via AFP. “America is still the enemy of the Iranian nation and the US insists on its enmity towards Iran. Therefore, shaking hands with the enemy is contrary to the revolution's principles and against the nation's rights.” Another lawmaker, Mohammad Hassan Asafari, told The Associated Press that there should be an “investigation” to see what the circumstances were.

The handshake was also a topic of debate in Parliament the following day. Lawmaker Bahram Biranvand was furious with Zarif. He shouted:
“Who has allowed Zarif to shake hands with Obama? Right at a time when death has embraced thousands of Hajj pilgrims in Mina, Zarif embraces Obama and the U.S. secretary of state. Damn! Zarif has made a fatal mistake by shaking the hand of Obama as the Iranian foreign minister. As an ordinary citizen, if Zarif hungers for an Obama embrace, he can resign and go take up residence in their house [the White House].”*
Vice-Speaker Hassan Abutorabi-Fard, however, warned Biranvand against “foul language in criticizing someone who has proven to be serving the late Imam [Khomeini] and the Supreme Leader.”
Zarif-Kerry handshakes became a regular occurrence when nuclear negotiations began two years ago, but the Obama-Zarif handshake was the first known between a U.S. president and an Iranian foreign minister since the 1979 revolution. Iran’s semi-official ISNA news agency, citing an Iranian official, reported that the encounter was not preplanned.
In January, Zarif also faced criticism after he took a 15-minute walk with Secretary Kerry through Geneva’s streets during nuclear talks. Parliament summoned him to account for his actions.
The following remarks include additional criticism of Zarif.
Judiciary Spokesperson Gholam-Hossein Mohseni-Ejei 
“We have one type of spy who is a foreign hire and who receives a salary from them for giving secret and classified information, which spying for countries that are satanic like America comes with a heavy punishment, but there is another method of spying that we must be watchful of, an individual who does not appear to be paid by the enemy and does not give classified information, but has set the scene for the entrance of the enemy and lessens the enmity of the enemy. For instance he says it is no longer the Great Satan and it has come to its senses and this is the lessening of enmity.”  
—September 30, 2015, via Mehr News 
“One who today wants to spy for America, the Great Satan, and cooperate with this country is guilty, a traitor, and eligible for punishment.” 
—September 30, 2015, via Raja News 
*Translation via Iran Front Page

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