They Say, We Say
21 Mar 2009 19:30
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March 21, 2009
Speech by Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei to a gathering at the Imam Reza shrine in Mashhad, on the occasion of Nowruz, the Iranian New Year.
Regarding the foreign affairs of our country, I would like to mentions one point, and that is the issue between us and the United States. One of the main challenges for the Revolution, right from the beginning, was the same issue. Right from the first day of the Revolution's victory, a phase was opened for the Iranian nation, as a major test in its relations and interactions with the government of the United States of America. This major and important test continued for the past 30 years. The US Government faced this Revolution with an angry and frowning face, and opposed us from the beginning. Of course, they had the right to do so, considering their own calculations. Before the Revolution, Iran was in the hands of the United States, its vital resources were in the hands of the United States, its political decision-making centers were in the hands of the United States, decisions to appoint and depose its vital centers were in the hands of the United States, and it (Iran) was like a field for the United States, the US military, and others on which to graze. Well, this was taken away from them. They could have expressed their opposition in not such an aggressive manner. But from the beginning of the Revolution, both their Republican presidents, and the Democrats, did not behave well toward the Islamic Republic. This is not secret from anyone.
(People chant: "Death to America")
Pay attention, the first measure taken by the United States was to provoke the scattered opposition groups of the Islamic Republic, and to support terrorism and disintegration in the country. They started this right from the beginning. In any parts of the country, where there were grounds for disintegration, the United States had a hand, we noticed their money, and at times their agents. This cost our people much. Unfortunately, this continues. The bandits in the Iran-Pakistan border areas, we know that some of them -- as we have their voices (as received) -- are in touch with Americans.
They have wireless communications, and take orders from them. Bandits, terrorists, murderers, are in touch with US officers in a neighboring country. Unfortunately, this still goes on. This was the beginning of what they started. Then it was the confiscation of property and goods belonging to Iran. The former regime gave a large amount of money to the United States to buy airplanes, helicopters, and weapons from them. Some of them over there were prepared, and when the Revolution took place, they did not deliver them. They did not give back the money, which amounted to millions of dollars. And the strange point is that they kept these goods in a store, and considered storage charges for it, which they claimed from the Algeria Agreement. To take away some goods from a nation, confiscate them, and fail to deliver them, and then claim storage charges for it! This is the kind of behavior started then, which continues. Our possessions are still there. They belong to the Iranian nation. They are in the United States and also some European countries. We referred to them over the past years, and asked them to give us what belongs to us and what we paid for. They said that since they are under the license of the United States, the United States does not allow them to do so; they cannot return them to us, and they are still there.
They showed Saddam (late Iraqi president) a green light. This was another plan by the US Government to attack Iran. If Saddam did not have the green light from the United States, he would have not attacked our borders. They imposed eight years of war on our country. About 300,000 of our young people, our people, were martyred in this eight-year war. In these eight years (Iran-Iraq war), particularly in the last few years of it, the United States constantly supported Saddam and helped him financially, with ammunition, and political advice. They provided him with satellite information. They had information facilities. They recorded the movements of our forces by satellite, and transferred this information the very same day to Saddam's HQ to use against our young people and forces.
They (the United States) closed their eyes to Saddam's crimes. The Halabcheh (southern Iranian town bordering Iraq) incident took place, hitting various towns of our country with missiles. They destroyed houses, they used chemical bombs on the frontlines, they still closed their eyes. They did not object at all. They helped Saddam. This was another one of the acts of this government over the years toward our country and our nation.
Then, please pay attention; there is a lot of time for chanting. Toward the end of the war, a US officer hit our airplane on the Persian Gulf with a missile from a warship. Some 290, about 300, passengers were in this plane, and they were all killed. And then, instead of punishing that officer, the US President of that time awarded that officer and gave him a medal. Now, should our nation forget this? Can it forget?They supported criminal terrorists who killed men, women, people, great scholars, even little children in our country. They (the United States) allowed them (terrorists) to be active in their country. They constantly released aggressive propaganda against our country. Constantly! In the past years, US Presidents, particularly during the eight years of the former president (referring to President George W. Bush), whenever he said something against the Iranian nation, against our country, against our officials, against the Islamic Republic system, he said something absurd and nonsensical. He did not respect the Iranian nation. It was always like this over the years. They disturbed the security and peace in our region, security in the Persian Gulf, Iraq, and Afghanistan. They brought massive quantities of weapons to the regional countries, in order to stand against the Islamic Republic, in fact to fill the pockets of armaments factories.
They unconditionally supported Israel, the cruel Zionist regime. You witnessed one example of its (Israel's) cruelty in Gaza in the past two, three months. What a disaster they created. How many children they killed, how many men and women they killed. In 22 days they killed 5,000 people in Gaza with bombardments, missiles, and direct shootings. In the meanwhile they supported it. The US Government supported it until the very last moment. Whenever the Security Council wanted to issue a resolution against the Zionist regime, the United States stepped forward and defended (Israel), and did not let it happen. It (the United States) threatened our country on any occasion. It constantly said that it will attack us. They said that they had a military plan ready on the desk, they will do this, and they will do that. They constantly talked against our country and threatened our nation. Of course, these threats did not affect our nation, but they showed their enmity by doing so. They insulted the Iranian nation, the Iranian government, and the Iranian president, over and over again. Some years ago, an American said that the Iranian nation must be eradicated. In the past few years, a US official said that a nice and moderate Iranian is one that was killed, who is dead. They insulted this great and honorable nation, the nation whose only fault is to defend its identity and independence in such ways.
They imposed sanctions on our country for 30 years. Of course, these sanctions were in our benefit. With this regard, we must thank the United States.
If they had not imposed sanctions on us, we would have not reached this level of science and progress. Sanctions constantly made us aware, made us think about ourselves, and be innovative. But they did not mean to serve us like this. They wanted to be antagonist. This is how they treated the Iranian nation for 30 years, and now the new US Government says that they would like to negotiate with Iran, that we should forget the past. They say that they extended their arm towards Iran. What kind of a hand? If it is an iron hand covered with a velvet glove, then it will not make any good sense. They congratulate the Iranian nation on the occasion of the New Year (Iranian New Year started 20 March 2009), but in the same message call the Iranian nation supporters of terrorism, who seek nuclear weapons, and accuse it of such things.
I would like to say that I do not know who makes decisions for the United States, the President, the Congress, elements behind the scenes? But I would like to say that we have logic. Since the beginning, the Iranian nation moved with logic. Regarding our vital issues, we are not sentimental. We do not make decisions based on emotion. We make decisions through calculation. They tell us to negotiate, to start relations. They have the slogan of change. Where is the change? What has changed? Clarify this to us. What changed? Has your enmity toward the Iranian nation changed? What signs are there to support this? Have you released the possessions of the Iranian nation? Have you removed the cruel sanctions? Have you stopped the insults, accusations, and negative propaganda against this great nation and its officials? Have you stopped your unconditional support for the Zionist regime? What has changed? They talk of change, but there are no changes in actions. We have not seen any changes. Even the literature has not changed. The new US President, from the very moment of his official appointment as President, made a speech, and insulted Iran and the Islamic government. Why? If you tell the truth, and there are changes, where are these changes? Why can we see nothing? I would like to say this to everyone. US officials should also know that the Iranian nation cannot be fooled, or scared.
First of all. (Interrupted by chanting)
Changes in words are not adequate; although we have not seen much of a change there either. Change must be real. I would like to say this to US officials, that this change that you talk about is a real necessity; you have no other choice, you must change. If you do not change, then divine traditions will change you, the world will change you. You must change, but this change cannot be in words only. It should not come with unhealthy intentions. You may say that you want to change policies, but not your aims, that you will change tactics. This is not change. This is deceit. There can be true change, which should be seen in action. I advise US officials, whoever is the decision-maker in the United States, whether the President, Congress, or others, that the US Government has not worked to the benefit of the American people. Today, you are hated in the world. You should know this, if you do not already. Nations set fire to your flag. Muslim nations across the world chant "Death to America."
(People chant: "Death to America")
What is the reason behind this hatred? Have you ever studied this? Analyzed it? Have you learnt from it? The reason is, that you treat the world like a pupil, you talk snobbishly, you want to impose your own will on the world, you interfere in the affairs of other countries, and you implement double-sided criteria. When a young Palestinian is forced to perform some act of martyrdom, because of the pressure he is under, you bombard him with a mass of propaganda, and on the other hand you ignore the crimes of the Zionist regime, while it creates such a disaster in Gaza for 22 days. You call that young man a terrorist, and you say that you are committed towards the security of such a terrorist regime. These are the reasons that they hate you around the world. This is advice to you. For your own benefit, for your own good, for the future of your country, restrain from your snobbish attitude, hegemony, and your lecturing attitude. Do not interfere in the affairs of other nations. Be happy with your own rights. Do not define benefits for yourself in various parts of the world. You will see that the United States will gradually lose its hated image in the world. These deed have made you hated. Listen to these words. This is my advice to US officials, the President, and others. Listen well to these words, and have them translated for you. Of course, do not give it to the Zionists to translate for you. Consult healthy people, and seek their opinions.
If the US Government continues its same behavior, method, course, policies against us, as in the past 30 years, we are the same people, the same nation that we were for the past 30 years.
Please pay attention. If you go on with the slogan of discussion and pressure, saying that you will negotiate with Iran, and at the same time impose pressure, threats, and changes, then our nation will not like such words. We do not have any experience with the new US President and Government. We shall see and judge. You change, and we shall change as well. If you do not change, our people became more and more experienced, stronger, and more patient in the past 30 years.
Compiled and distributed by NTIS, US Dept. of Commerce.
March 20, 2009
Acting Department Spokesman
Daily Press Briefing
MR. WOOD: Happy Friday, everyone, happy spring. I'm going to start off with a couple of announcements.
MR. WOOD: I'm sorry?
QUESTION: Happy Nowruz.
MR. WOOD: Happy Nowruz. This one is on Bosnia.
The United States supports the draft constitutional amendment on the Brcko district currently before parliament of Bosnia and Herzegovina...
...And with that, I will take your questions.
QUESTION: What do you make so far of the Iranian reaction to the President's video message?
QUESTION: Robert, can I ask you a question about the statement on Madagascar? How much money is involved in the suspension?
MR. WOOD: Charlie, we're working to get the figures for you right now, and we'll hopefully be able to give you that a little bit later today.
MR. WOOD: No, that's a good question.
QUESTION: Now proceed to --
MR. WOOD: We're working on it.
QUESTION: Yeah, your - what do you make of the Iranian reaction thus far to the President's video message?
MR. WOOD: Well, I haven't really seen much in terms of the Iranian reaction to it. We will - I will see more as the day goes on. But I think the importance of this message was that the President said that we are going to engage in direct diplomacy with Iran. We're interested in working with the Iranian people, the Iranian Government to improve the relationship. There are still a lot of difficult issues that remain between us, but we're willing to work through them if the Iranians are willing to work with us. So, you know, I'll probably have more to say about the Iranian reaction once I have a fuller understanding of how they responded to it.
QUESTION: Do you have anything more on whether U.S. officials will meet with their Iranian counterparts either in Russia for the Shanghai grouping or the one in The Hague, the Afghanistan --
MR. WOOD: No, I don't have anything more than what I said yesterday, but we'll certainly keep you abreast if there are changes to that.
James, haven't seen you in a while. Good to see you.
QUESTION: Good to be back. Robert, is the American policy toward Israel under review?
MR. WOOD: No, our policy toward - are you talking about something specific?
QUESTION: You've talked about how the policy in Afghanistan is under review, the policy toward North Korea is under review, Iran is under review. Is the policy toward Israel under review?
MR. WOOD: No, our - look, we have a longstanding, very good relationship with the Government of Israel. We're - as I said several days ago and I think a couple weeks ago as well, we're waiting for there to be an Israeli government in place. We look forward to working with that new government on trying to move the peace process forward. And that's where we're at.
QUESTION: The reason I ask is because that was an element of the Iranian response which the spokesman for President Ahmadinejad stated specifically. The American Government, he said, should realize its previous mistakes; supporting Israel is not a friendly gesture. But you don't intend to diminish your support for Israel in any way?
MR. WOOD: Absolutely not.
QUESTION: And another element of the response I want to bring up with you: The spokesman for President Ahmadinejad said that unlimited sanctions against Iran, which still continue and have been renewed by the United States, are wrong and need to be reviewed. How was it that the Administration could make that determination about the need to extend those sanctions against Iran amid an overall policy review toward Iran that is still underway?
MR. WOOD: Well, our concerns about a number of - our concerns about Iranian behavior in a number of areas are still there and is still there. And that hasn't changed. We want to engage with the Iranians to try to resolve some of the differences between us, but those difficult issues remain. And we look to work with the Iranian Government to try to resolve them.
We're willing to reach out our hand to the Iranians, as the President and the Secretary have said. But some of those issues, like its nuclear program, it's not just a concern to the United States; it's a concern to the larger international community. Iran's behavior with regard to Iraq, with regard to Hezbollah, Hamas, remain concerns. And so that hasn't changed. The fact that we want to reach out to Iran, I don't see a contradiction there. But those concerns remain, and they need to be dealt with.
QUESTION: Robert, on that message, since public diplomacy is what this building does, did the State Department have any input into that message, and do you know who originated the idea for doing it?
MR. WOOD: I don't know who originated the idea, but obviously the President had an interest in reaching out to Iran, as he has said that he would do. The State Department certainly was aware of the fact that the President was going to, you know, give this message to the Iranian people and its government. So --
QUESTION: But did it help to craft that message, or was it strictly the White House?
MR. WOOD: Honestly, I don't know where - you know, who had a role in providing language or editing it. I don't know. But you can - certainly it's fair to state that the State Department was involved with the crafting of the message in some fashion. I just can't tell you how.
QUESTION: While reaching out to Iran, Israel still considers Iran to be a primary threat. Can that be sort of a source of friction between the U.S. and Israel?
MR. WOOD: No, I don't see any source of friction. Iran's behavior is what both the Government of the United States and the Government of Israel are concerned about. It's about Iranian behavior that all of us in the international community are concerned about. So no, I don't see any differences. We share that view. What we have said is that we want to engage the Iranians diplomatically to try to bridge some of these differences. But a lot of concerns remain.
QUESTION: As we pursue a diplomatic route with Iran, can we assume that sort of the Palestinian-Israeli issue will take on a higher priority, it will become issue number one for the U.S. Administration in the Middle East?
MR. WOOD: Well, it is a high priority. We've been working trying to bring about a two-state solution for quite some time. We're going to continue to push that. It remains a priority. We have a number of priorities in the Middle East, but certainly the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is definitely right up there at the top.
QUESTION: I'm sorry. I have a follow-up on Iran and the video. What - speaking of which, what kind of follow-up do you have planned to this? I mean, what's the next step? Okay, this is - this is a, you know, public overture, but what does that mean and what's the intent --
MR. WOOD: Well, that's a very legitimate question. I think we will be able to respond to that much more fully once the review is completed. And I do expect that that review will be completed, you know, in the very near future. And so let's wait and see. But obviously, this President is committed to direct engagement with Iran, and this is one example. There will be other examples, but I don't want to get ahead of the process right now. But I would just say stay tuned.
QUESTION: Obviously, I mean, the review didn't forestall making - taking this step.
MR. WOOD: That's right.
QUESTION: That's fairly significant.
MR. WOOD: But --
QUESTION: So what's next?
MR. WOOD: Well, certainly, I'm not going to preview it here for you. Let's see, there will be future steps, and we will certainly make all of you aware of them. But I'm not going to get ahead of the process right now.
QUESTION: Robert, the conference that's coming up on Afghanistan and the Iranians supposedly invited. They still think they're not invited. Now, could you - I know you went over this before, but could you explain exactly who issues the invitations and why they --
MR. WOOD: My understanding is that the invitations are being issued by the UN, along with the co-sponsors of the conference, meaning the Government of the Netherlands and the Government of Afghanistan.
QUESTION: (Inaudible) question. The U.S. Government has been saying, okay, we're waiting - we're making the overtures, we're extending our hand and we're waiting for a sign from Iran. What kind of a sign are you waiting for them to - for them to show their willingness?
MR. WOOD: Well, we're waiting for Iran to reach its hand out and, you know, express its willingness to engage with the United States.
QUESTION: They've said so in public themselves, but --
MR. WOOD: They're also - right. But you know, it's important - again, we're at the beginning of this process. The President has clearly - made it clear that we are going to engage diplomatically with Iran. We intend to do that. It will be up to the Iranians how they want to reciprocate. But I also want to emphasize that we still have some very difficult issues that divide us. And what the President has said is that we want to work with Iran on trying to deal with these differences. We're willing to diplomatically engage. It's really going to be up to Iran. I can't give you a specific thing that Iran needs to do. But certainly Iran is aware of our concerns. It's certainly aware of our willingness to engage diplomatically. And we'll just have to see what comes from that.
QUESTION: Can I follow up on the language in the message in which the President said that the process will not be advanced by threats? What is the meaning of that?
MR. WOOD: Well, I think what the President was trying to say is that, you know, threats that have been made by the Government of Iran against Israel, you know, threats against neighbors, that type of thing, doesn't advance dialogue and peace in the region.
And again, the President is extending the hand of the United States to the government and people of Iran. You know, Iran has a very proud culture, a very deep and rich culture. We obviously want to work with the people of Iran on a whole host of issues. But again, making threats, that's not the language of dialogue, and that's what he was getting at.
QUESTION: And so that language was directed toward Iran and no other party? Was it directed at the United States itself? Was it directed at any other party?
MR. WOOD: Look, the United States has not been making threats. I think you've seen threats coming from Iran on a number of subjects. And what the President was trying to say is that let's get beyond this threatening language, let's try to work together to resolve our differences, and that the United States is willing to reach out and engage.
QUESTION: Saying stop your nuclear program or we're going to proceed with sanctions is not a threat?
MR. WOOD: Look, this - Iran's nuclear program is a concern to not just the United States, it's a concern to a number of countries. We've offered Iran a package of incentives. When I say we, I mean the P-5+1. And we want Iran to take up that offer. That's not a threat. That's an offer. And that's what we've been saying to Iran for quite some time. And that package of incentives is important and should be looked at by Iran. But as I said, that's not a threat. That was an offer.
QUESTION: Isn't the package carrots and sticks? Sticks probably being a threat that if you don't follow through with what we're asking for.
MR. WOOD: Well, all I can tell you is that we have, with our partners, tried to reach out and deal with this issue diplomatically. That's what we want to do. We're not in the process of threatening Iran. But clearly, you know, this issue is not going to go away. We want Iran - if Iran is interested in peaceful nuclear energy, the international community can make provisions for that. But there are a lot of suspicions about what it's trying to do with its nuclear program. And what we're trying to do is resolve it diplomatically.
You know, Iran is under a number of Security Council resolutions, and it needs to comply with those resolutions. No secrets there. So I don't view it as the United States making threats. This is the international community calling on Iran to live up to its obligations.