Iran’s leadership, UN representatives, and state-run media responded to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s UN speech with a coordinated line that presents Israel as the problem instead of Iran, which is said to be pursuing a nuclear program for peaceful purposes under IAEA supervision. Iran’s news agencies also quoted commentaries by foreign reporters portraying the speech as a failure that played into Iran’s hands. Iran’s cartoonists (like their counterparts in the West) jumped eagerly on Netanyahu’s bomb diagram and “red line,” producing numerous cartoons that showcase this motif and link it to Iran’s propaganda line on the speech.
This also marks the first time Iran has leveraged its new role as president of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), using the speech to try and boost cooperation among its members. In a discussion on the fight against nuclear terror that occurred during the UN General Assembly session, Iranian foreign minister Ali Akbar Salehi – in the spirit of Iran’s reaction to Netanyahu’s speech and in the name of the nonaligned states – called on Israel (“the Zionist regime”) to join the Non-Proliferation Treaty and accept IAEA supervision over its nuclear facilities. Salehi stressed NAM’s commitment to nuclear disarmament.1
Iran’s official reaction to Netanyahu’s speech was presented by its deputy UN ambassador, Es’haq Ale-Habib, who harshly condemned the “dark regime” in Israel, its refusal to sign international disarmament treaties, the threat it poses to the security of the region and the world, and its aims of attacking Iran. He also emphasized Iran’s ability to defend itself. Here are the main points of Iran’s official response:
Israel levels baseless and absurd allegations against the Islamic Republic to divert attention from the danger that its nuclear arsenal and clandestine nuclear program pose to the world….I do not want to take the precious time of distinguished delegates to reply to such unfounded statements [regarding Iran’s nuclear program], which I do not dignify…with an answer other than categorically rejecting it….Likewise, I don’t want to refer to the totally dark record of Israeli regime….
This regime’s prime minister shamelessly, hypocritically and with hue and cry, by making baseless and absurd allegations against the exclusively peaceful nuclear program of my country, tries to abuse the tribune of this assembly to divert the attention of member states from the danger of its nuclear arsenals, its clandestine nuclear program, and its unsafeguarded nuclear facilities, which are the only source of threat to the peace, security, and stability in the Middle East and beyond….
Iran is strong enough to defend itself and reserves its full right to retaliate with full force against any attack. At the same time, the international community should (live) up to its responsibility and exert pressure on this regime to end all this irresponsible behavior in a volatile region such as the Middle East.
Finally Mr. President, for the second time in the recent history of the United Nations, today an unfounded and imaginary graph was used to justify a threat against a founding member of the United Nations. However, it is worth mentioning that in our increasingly interconnected world and in the information age, it is hardly possible for the nations to be fooled by such absurd means. It is evident that no amount of slander, deception, or smear campaign by the Zionist regime can cloud its dark history or divert the attention of the nations from the realities.2
The Iranian defense minister, Ahmad Vahidi, mocked Netanyahu’s cartoonlike diagram and said that if having a bomb means crossing a red line, then the Zionist regime of Israel has tens of nuclear warheads and other weapons of mass destruction (WMDs), has already crossed this line many years ago, and ought to be confronted. Vahidi asserted that “if the leaders of the United States and the West are indeed interested in defusing the danger that faces the region and the world, they need to cut off [diplomatic] relations with the dangerous Zionist regime and impose sanctions on it until it agrees to fully dismantle its weapons of mass destruction.” Vahidi asked rhetorically whether “occupying and belligerent [Israel] that has bombs and issues threats of a military attack constitutes a danger, or Iran, which has no nuclear weapons and more than any other state is trying to develop nuclear energy for peaceful purposes in the framework of the international regulations and treaties and the NPT.”3
Below are some cartoons from Iran’s press and news agencies that reflect the line its spokesmen have taken.
3. http://www.inn.ir/NSite/FullStory/News/?Serv=1&Id=112356&Rate=0; http://www.farsnews.com/plarg.php?nn=271138&st=568559; http://tinyurl.com/bpdvbfr