Iran's Rafsanjani warns of instability if attacked
Damascus, Apr 16: Any US attack on Iran over its nuclear programme would plunge the region into instability, former Iranian President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani said today.
''We do not discount the possibility of US aggression under any circumstance; we stress at the same time that it would not be in the interest of the United States, nor us,'' the influential Rafsanjani said during a visit to Syria.
The United States says Iran appears intent on making an atomic bomb and all options are on the table to try to prevent it. But Washington says it is pursuing the diplomatic course and rejects reports it is stepping up plans for a military strike.
Rafsanjani said Tehran's nuclear programme, which he reiterated was for peaceful purposes, would benefit the region, which would also suffer from the fallout of any military strike.
''Harm will not only engulf the Islamic Republic of Iran, but the region and everybody,'' Rafsanjani, who heads a council that arbitrates Iranian legislative disputes, told a news conference with Syrian Vice President Farouq al-Shara.
Iran, whose population is mainly Shi'ite Muslim, has regional influence through Shi'ite allies in Iraq and Lebanon.
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who defeated Rafsanjani in last year's elections, said on Tuesday Iran had enriched uranium needed to make nuclear fuel and would accelerate efforts to achieve industrial level enrichment.
The announcement deepened Iran's confrontation with the United States.
US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said the United Nations Security Council should consider Chapter Seven of the UN Charter to force Iran to change its nuclear policy.
Chapter Seven makes a resolution mandatory under international law for all UN members. It can lead to sanctions and eventually the use of force if it specifically calls for them or threatens ''all necessary means''.
''America and other countries want to issue a resolution taking advantage of Chapter Seven. Could they achieve this? It is doubtful,'' Rafsanjani said.
The Security Council is divided over how to deal with Iran.
Russia, one of the five permanent members on the council, said the use of force will not resolve the confrontation.
France said it was in favour of negotiations and a military strike was ''not topical''.