Published April 11, 2010
TEHRAN, Iran – TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Iran's supreme leader said Sunday that President Barack Obama has "implicitly threatened" his country with nuclear weapons in a newly outlined U.S. policy and Tehran said it intends to file a formal complaint with the U.N.
Obama announced a new U.S. nuclear strategy last week, including a vow not to use nuclear weapons against countries that do not have them. Iran and North Korea were pointedly excepted from that pledge because Washington accuses them of not cooperating with the international community on nonproliferation standards.
Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has the final say on all state matters in Iran, said Obama's language was "disgraceful" and proof the U.S. cannot be trusted.
"The U.S. president has implicitly threatened the Iranian nation with nuclear weapons. These remarks are very strange," Khamenei said on state television. "The world should not ignore it because in the 21st century, ... the head of a state is threatening a nuclear attack. The U.S. president's remarks are disgraceful," he added. "These remarks mean the U.S. government is a villain government that can't be trusted."
The U.S. and its allies suspect Iran's nuclear program is geared toward producing weapons, though Iran denies that.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast claimed Obama's stance on Iran was a "threat to global peace and security," the semiofficial Fars news agency reported.
"We will formally hand over our complaint to the United Nations in response to these threats," Mehmanparast said.
The newly stated U.S. policy on Iran represents a warning to Tehran. But the Obama administration's new nuclear policy guidelines also aim to show Washington is serious about reducing its own arsenal and about gathering world support for stricter safeguards against nuclear proliferation — a step aimed at further isolating Iran diplomatically.
Obama's new nuclear strategy turns the U.S. focus away from the Cold War threats and instead aims to stop the spread of atomic weapons to rogue states or terrorists. U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates has said the focus would now be on terror groups such as al-Qaida as well as North Korea's nuclear buildup and Iran's nuclear ambitions.
"Such statements show that countries possessing nuclear weapons themselves are the biggest threat to world security," Mehmanparast said.
Earlier Sunday, 222 of Iran's 290 parliament members called on the government to file the complaint.
Iran, meanwhile, was pushing ahead with its nuclear work. On Friday, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad unveiled a third generation of centrifuges that will be used to accelerate a uranium enrichment program that is of central concern to the U.S. and its allies.
Enrichment is used to produce fuel for nuclear power plants, but it also provides a possible pathway to nuclear weapons development. Three sets of U.N. sanctions have failed to pressure Iran to stop enrichment. The United States is leading the push for a fourth round of penalties.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton told a TV news program on Sunday that Iran's claimed advancements should be taken "with more than a grain of salt."
"But in fact their belligerence is helping to make our case every single day," Clinton told ABC's "This week." ''Countries that might have had doubts about Iranian intentions, who might have even questioned whether Iran was seeking nuclear weapons, are having those doubts dispelled as much by the evidence we present as by what comes out of the leadership of Iran."