Sunday, September 30, 2007

Iran MPs brand U.S. army and CIA "terrorists"

TEHRAN - Iranian lawmakers hit back on Saturday at the United States for considering sanctions against the Islamic state's Revolutionary Guards, branding the U.S. armed forces and the CIA as "terrorist".

A statement, signed by 215 MPs and read out at a session of the 290-seat legislature, criticised the U.S. military and the Central Intelligence Agency for what it called terrorist actions, the official IRNA news agency said.

It cited the World War Two atomic bombing of Japan, the Vietnam war and the conflict in Iraq as examples.

"Iranian lawmakers ... labelled the American army and the country's intelligence services (CIA) as terrorist," IRNA said.

The statement came four days after the U.S. House of Representatives approved a bill mandating sanctions on foreign energy companies doing business with Iran and urging the U.S. government to brand the Revolutionary Guards "terrorist".

The two nations, who have not had diplomatic ties since shortly after Iran's 1979 Islamic Revolution, are embroiled in a deepening rift over Tehran's nuclear ambitions. They also blame each other for the bloodshed in Iraq.

Iran has said any U.S. move to label the Guards a terrorist organisation -- which would enable Washington to target the force's financing -- would be illegal and amount to a confrontation with the entire Islamic Republic.


U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said this week Washington was considering sanctions against the Guards' Qods force which it accuses of inciting violence in Iraq.

The Qods force is considered the elite unit of the Guards, which is an ideologically-driven wing of Iran's armed forces.

A month ago, there were plans within the U.S. administration to label the entire Guards Corps a terrorist group -- the first time the United States would place the armed forces of any sovereign government on such a list.

But U.S. officials have said the thinking now was that the Qods unit was easier to target. Washington accuses it of training and equipping insurgents who have attacked U.S. troops.

Iran denies this, as well as Western allegations its nuclear programme is aimed at developing atomic weapons.

The Iranian lawmakers' statement condemned "the violations by the American army and the creation of insecurity in the region."

It also listed the United States' "unlimited support for the racist and aggressive Zionist regime (Israel) and involvement in the terrorist operations of the government of that regime against the oppressed nations of Palestine and Lebanon".

The MPs called on the United Nations to intervene to prevent "places of torture" such as Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib and secret U.S. prisons, IRNA added.

The handling of detainees in the U.S. military lockup at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq and at secret CIA prisons has fuelled allegations that the United States has wilfully violated international law.