LATEST: Fars News: “Putin Orders Massive Strike Against Saudi Arabia If West Attacks Syria”

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With the approach of US-led airstrikes on Syria, statements of concern and warning from the Iranian regime have escalated.

Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif (pictured) said in a Tuesday interview on State TV:

As a victim of chemical weapons the Islamic Republic of Iran does not tolerate the use of such weapons. In addition, it also does not tolerate a group of countries giving themselves the permission to wage a campaign in the region.

This fire of sectarianism, tribal conflicts, and conflicts that…are exacerbated for short-term interests cannot be restricted to one region. “If (Obama) gets stuck in this trap, he will certainly leave behind bad memories of his presidency.”

Interestingly Press TV elevates the rhetoric in its quotation of Zarif, adding a reference to Israel, “The Syria crisis is a trap set by Zionist pressure groups for this country (the US).”

Press TV adds the words of Iranian MPs “that any US military action against Syria will give Damascus the right to target Washington’s interests across the Middle East”.

The exception to the near-panic tone from Tehran is President Rouhani. He made no public statement on Tuesday, but his office used Twitter to re-issue his measured declarations from last weekend that the use of chemical weapons must be condemned.

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Fars News: “Putin Orders Massive Strike Against Saudi Arabia If West Attacks Syria”

Fars News ratchets up the propaganda with a claimed exclusive of Russian plans, “Putin Orders Massive Strike Against Saudi Arabia If West Attacks Syria”:

A grim “urgent action memorandum” issued yesterday from the office of President [Vladimir] Putin to the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation has ordered a “massive military strike” against Saudi Arabia in the event that the West attacks Syria, media reports said.

According to Kremlin sources familiar with this extraordinary “war order”, Putin became “enraged” after his early August meeting with Saudi Prince Bandar bin Sultan who warned that if Russia did not accept the defeat of Syria, Saudi Arabia would unleash Chechen terrorists under their control to cause mass death and chaos during the Winter Olympics scheduled to be held 7-23 February 2014 in Sochi, Russia.

But before you snicker too much at the Iranians, you may want to look at their accomplice: London’s Daily Telegraph.

In its Finance section on Tuesday, the Telegraph also put out the claim of Saudi Arabia unleashing the Chechens:

[Bandar] hinted at Chechen terrorist attacks on Russia’s Winter Olympics in Sochi if there is no accord. “I can give you a guarantee to protect the Winter Olympics next year. The Chechen groups that threaten the security of the games are controlled by us,” he allegedly said.

And where did Telegraph get this “information”?

Step up, Lebanon’s As-Safir, a staunchly pro-Hezbollah, pro-Syrian regime outlet.

Last Thursday, the newspaper put out a lengthy report — later published in English — of the meeting between Bandar and Putin in Moscow earlier this month, citing a “diplomatic report…[which] one of the two sides leaked…via the Russian press”.

There is no other support for the claims.

Iranian-American Pastor’s 8-Year Sentence Upheld

The lawyer for Iranian-American pastor Saeed Abedini said his client’s eight-year prison sentence was upheld on Monday.

Abedini, who converted to Christianity and moved to Idaho in the US, was visiting Iran to see a non-profit orphanage in Rasht when he was arrested in July 2012. He was accused of waging “soft war” through the practice of Christianity in informal house churches and convicted of “undermining national security” in December.

Ahmadinejad’s 1st Vice President Arrested Over Fraud Case?

MP Ali Motahari said on Wednesday that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s 1st Vice President, Mohammed Reza Rahimi, has been arrested over a long-standing insurance fraud case.

Authorities offered no confirmation that Rahimi would finally face prosecution, but Tasnim News wrote this morning that the interrogation of a “high-ranking” Ahmadinejad official had begun.

The Fatemi Street insurance ring is accused of obtaining millions of dollars through fraud.

Hyping Latest IAEA Report on Nuclear Program

An advance leak of the latest report of the International Atomic Energy Agency shows little significant change in Iran’s nuclear program.

The report says that a new line of about 1,000 uranium enrichment centrifuges have been installed but are not yet operational.

In May, the IAEA said 689 IR-2m centrifuges, replacing the 40-year-old IR-1s, had been set up at the Natanz facility.

A report from Reuters tries to inject drama, declaring — without any further support — that this is “a development likely to worry Western powers hoping for a change of course under the country’s new president” and that “the Islamic state had started making fuel assemblies for a reactor which the West fears could yield nuclear bomb material”.

The more significant news is that Iran has not significantly increased the stock of 20% uranium which can potentially be enriched further for military use. The IAEA said Tehran had only added four kilogrammes since May, as the other 40 additional kilogrammes had been converted into oxide power.

The amount of 20% uranium which is gas rather than powder form is about 190 kilogrammes, still less than the minimum of 250 kilogrammes which could be elevated to more than 90% for military purposes.

Meanwhile, the IAEA has said that it will resume talks with Iranian officials in Tehran on September 27.

Iran Signs $60 Bln Gas Deal With Oman

Iran on Monday signed a memorandum of understanding to export gas to Oman from 2015, in a 25-year deal valued at around $60 billion, the Times of Oman reports.

The Times quotes Iranian Oil Minister Bijan Namdar Zanganeh as saying that Iran and Oman had “signed a memorandum of understanding for the construction of a gas pipeline” under the Sea of Oman, on the east of the strategic Strait of Hormuz.

The deal came during a visit to Tehran by Omani leader Sultan Qaboos.

Sultan Qaboos Says Iran Visit “Good Opportunity” To Improve Ties

Oman’s Sultan Qaboos said Wednesday that his visit to Iran was a “good opportunity for enhancing the Omani-Iranian strong relations and cooperation between the two countries in various spheres to serve the interests of the Omani and Iranian people”.

The Sultan added that he was “praying to Allah the Almighty to protect President Dr Rouhani and grant him good health, happiness and success to achieve the aspirations of Iranian people.”

The Times of Oman lists by name all those who greeted Sultan Qaboos on his arrival at The Royal Airport in Oman, and all those who accompanied him on his trip to Iran. (The Times adds that “a number of senior officials of Iran” saw the Sultan off at Iran’s Mehrabad airport late Tuesday.)

Sultan Qaboos tweeted this image of himself landing in The Royal Airport:

Rouhani Urges UN To Consider Possibility That Insurgents Used Chemical Weapons

State news agency IRNA is reporting that during a cabinet session on Wednesday, Rouhani called on the UN not to discount the possibility that insurgents used chemical weapons.

Rouhani also said that “takfiri” groups in neighboring countries may have delivered chemical weapons to the insurgents.

As New York Times Tehran correspondent Thomas Erdbrink noted in a tweet, that claim has also been made by Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani.

Rouhani Calls for “Prudence” Over Syria

President Rouhani has put out a statement on the Syrian crisis, via a tweet from his office:

Supreme Leader Warns US over Syria Attack “Starting This Fire Will Be Like a Spark in a Large Store of Gunpowder”

The Supreme Leader has added the personal touch to the line from his office warning the US against an attack on Syria.

He said in a meeting with the Rouhani Cabinet:

The US threats and possible intervention in Syria is a disaster for the region and if such an act is done, certainly, the Americans will sustain damage like when they interfered in Iraq and Afghanistan….

Starting this fire will be like a spark in a large store of gunpowder, with unclear and unspecified outcomes and consequences.

And Ayatollah Khamenei’s office asserts the authority of the Supreme Leader with this photograph:

Supreme Leader Worried About Syria? “To Liberate A Nation, You Don’t Drop Bombs on Them”

Looks like the Supreme Leader is somewhat tense this morning about US airstrikes on Syria, with his office putting out a series of tweets:

Referring to the Iraq War of 2003, the office warns, “Foreign forces have invaded a country for various excuses, e.g. WMD [weapons of mass destruction].” It then declares that the US attacks could lead to American-led occupation of Syria: