Thursday, April 27, 2006

Iran Could Respond to U.S. Offensive by Attacking Baku-Ceyhan Pipeline — Tehran Official

A senior Tehran official accused the United States of using the territory of Iran’s neighbor, Azerbaijan, against the Islamic republic, the Regnum news agency reported.

Reconnaissance units are operating in Azerbaijan, and their activity is directed against the Islamic Republic of Iran,” the Secretary of Iranian Supreme National Security Council Ali Larijani told the Egyptian Al Ahram newspaper.

Larijani claimed that U.S. special services were using the territories of Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan against Iran. According to him, if a military operation is launched, Iran may respond with an attack on the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline and oil facilities in Azerbaijan.

Chief spokesman for Azerbaijan’s Foreign Ministry, Tair Tagizade, played down the threat. Azerbaijan and Iran maintain peaceful neighborly relations: Such statements are aimed at breaching bilateral relations between the countries and aggravate tensions.”

Larijani’s statement came shortly after Iranian Defense Minister Mostafa Muhammad Najjar visited Azerbaijan. Najjar told reporters: My visit to Azerbaijan is aimed at expanding cooperation on the basis of treaties already signed. Tehran can assist Azerbaijan in developing its defense industry. We can exchange experience in this field. I am going to raise this issue in my talks with the Azerbaijani Minister of Defense.”

Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev is scheduled to make a three-day visit to the United States beginning Wednesday. Aliyev’s visit is a major coup for Azerbaijani diplomacy, as it emphasizes the nation’s geostrategic importance in Washington, since it shares a common border with Iran, UPI reported. Aliyev’s talks will undoubtedly include high-level discussions on Iran, especially since the last day of Aliyev’s visit coincides with the International Atomic Energy Agency head Mohammad ElBaradei presenting his report on Iran’s nuclear activities to the United Nations Security Council. READ MORE