Encouraged by signals of strong support emerging from Russia and China, Iran's Supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has warned that his country will retaliate with firmness if attacked by the United States and Israel.
“Our enemies, particularly the Zionist regime, America and its allies, should know that any kind of threat and attack or even thinking about any action will be firmly responded to,” the Ayatollah said on Thursday in a national address aired on state television. He added that Iran would retaliate to any military aggression with “fists of iron”.
The bold assertion by Iran's Supreme Leader, the most powerful political authority in the country, coincides with statements from China and Russia that advocate dialogue, instead of the imposition of additional pressure to resolve Iran's nuclear crisis.
Strongly opposing further economic sanctions — an option that is making the rounds in several western capitals, Russia has said that it would find the conception of such a move “unacceptable”. “Any additional sanctions against Iran will be interpreted by the international community as a means of changing the regime in Tehran,” Russia's Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov had said on Wednesday. China has also stated categorically on Thursday that imposing “pressure and sanctions cannot fundamentally resolve the issue”. The debate on deterring Iran has been spurred by the report on Tuesday issued by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) that strongly suggests that Tehran could be pursuing development of atomic weapons.
With wheels of diplomacy spinning at top speed, Iran and Russia have on Friday signed a wide-ranging security pact. The agreement signed by the Deputy Secretary of Iran's Supreme National Security Council (SNSC) Ali Baqeri and his Russian counterpart Yevgeny Lukyanov, “incorporates various aspects of collaboration between the national security councils of Iran and Russia in different security, economic, political and intelligence sectors,” Mr. Baqeri told IRNA.
The Iranian official also discussed revival of a nuclear dialogue under the “step-by-step” framework conceived by Russia, and announced
by its Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov on July 13. The plan envisages talks that will allow Iran to address the IAEA's concerns on a case-by-case basis. As it allays these issues, Iran will be progressively rewarded along the way with an incremental lifting of sanctions.
In Tehran, Iran's Foreign Ministry Spokesman Ramin Mehman-Parast also set the tone for the possible resumption of dialogue. Mr. Mehman-Parast told the Arabic language Al-Alam television that Iran was ready for “positive and useful negotiations,” with the six global powers provided these talks were conducted on an “equal footing”.