Sharp Words from Iran: Iran's Foreign Minister Talks about His Government's Evolving View of Saddam Hussein, Yasir Arafat and George Bush

By Weymouth, Lally | Newsweek, September 30, 2002 | Go to article overview

Sharp Words from Iran: Iran's Foreign Minister Talks about His Government's Evolving View of Saddam Hussein, Yasir Arafat and George Bush


Weymouth, Lally, Newsweek


Byline: Lally Weymouth

Is Iran still in the "Axis of Evil" with North Korea and Iraq? Or could it be an ally in a future war against Saddam Hussein? In an exclusive interview, NEWSWEEK's Lally Weymouth grilled Iranian Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi in New York last week about his country's relations with tyrants and terrorists. Excerpts:

Would you support the United States if it goes to war against Saddam Hussein?

We are basically against a military operation against Iraq. Of course it all depends. If Americans are going to attack Iraq unilaterally, we certainly would not be supportive. In the case that Iraq does not comply [with U.N. resolutions] and the Security Council would authorize using force against Iraq, it would be a different story. But basically we cannot agree with the U.S. policy to use force in order to change the regime of another country.

I don't know how to put this delicately, but I can't imagine that you would be too sad to see Saddam Hussein go.

It is a matter of principle. We have the United Nations system. We believe that this is the right of people in each country to decide about their future, not others from the outside.

The Ayatollah Khomeini wanted to replace Saddam in the 1980s.

This is completely different. At that time Iraq had invaded Iran. We do not see Iraq invading the United States. The United States does not like the regime of Iraq. But the United States does not have any legitimate right to change it.

There have been reports that Al Qaeda members are in Iraq.

In the northern area there are some groups associated with Al Qaeda. The leader was arrested recently at the Meerabad [Iran] airport when he was trying to come to Iran illegally. He was sent to Amsterdam [where he was detained].

Do the Iraqis have weapons of mass destruction?

They have chemical weapons. They have used them against us. The inspectors will have to [determine] if there is a stockpile of weapons of mass destruction or not.

Surely you think that those weapons should be eliminated.

Yes, sure. That is [also] the concern we have about Israel because it has nuclear, chemical and biological weapons and we believe that the Middle East should be free from any weapons of mass destruction.

But let's face it, Israel hasn't been dropping chemical weapons on Iran. …

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