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Defending military program, Zarif likens Iran-Iraq war to Holocaust

‘Never again’ resonates with Iranians too, foreign minister writes in Washington Post op-ed; says Tehran hasn’t started a war in ‘more than two centuries’

Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, center, arrives for a meeting with US Secretary of State John Kerry April 19, 2016, at the United Nations in New York. (AFP / DON EMMERT)
Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, center, arrives for a meeting with US Secretary of State John Kerry April 19, 2016, at the United Nations in New York. (AFP / DON EMMERT)

Iran’s foreign minister on Wednesday invoked the phrase “never again” to refer to the Iran-Iraq war in a written defense of his country’s military, while touting the Islamic Republic as a peace-loving country that hasn’t launched a war in over 200 years.

The phrase employed in a Washington Post op-ed by Mohammad Javad Zarif — whose religious leaders have repeatedly called for Israel’s destruction — is used by Jews as an affirmation that there will never be another Holocaust.

Zarif also slammed the West’s pro-Iraq role in the eight-year conflict with its neighbor.

“In 1980, in the aftermath of the Islamic Revolution, Iraq’s Saddam Hussein launched a war against Iran fully supported financially and militarily by almost all of our Arab neighbors and by the West… The West not only did nothing to prevent this, it armed Saddam with sophisticated weapons, while actively preventing Iran from getting access to the most rudimentary defensive necessities,” he wrote.

“This may have been forgotten by most in the West, but it is not forgotten by our people. They remember the missiles raining down, the horrific images of men, women and children murdered with chemical weapons and, above all, the lack of a modern means of defense,” Zarif continued.

A missile launched from the Alborz mountains in Iran on March 9, 2016, reportedly inscribed in Hebrew, 'Israel must be wiped out.' (Fars News)
A missile launched from the Alborz mountains in Iran on March 9, 2016, reportedly inscribed in Hebrew, ‘Israel must be wiped out.’ (Fars News)

The Iranian foreign minister linked the devastating war to current Iranian military activity, writing that it “is against this backdrop that we develop and test our indigenous defensive capabilities,” an apparent reference to Iran’s missile or nuclear program.

“The words ‘never again’ resonate with Iranians, too,” he said.

In his column, Zarif also erroneously maintained the “UN Security Council did not issue a single condemnation of the aggression, the deliberate targeting of civilians or the use of chemical weapons.” The international body did, however, approve some 10 resolutions condemning the war during that period, several of which explicitly denounced the loss of life, targeting of civilians, and use of chemical weapons.

Zarif noted that Iran’s military budget was smaller than other countries in the region, such as Saudi Arabia. While its neighbors are guilty of “wasteful military spending,” Iran focuses his budget on science, healthcare and education, Zarif claimed.

“We take pride in using our resources for universal health care and education and advanced science and technology rather than wasteful military spending. Our people want nothing more than peace and cooperation with our neighbors and the world at large. We have not launched a war in more than two centuries and continue to make an unequivocal commitment of never commencing such foolishness. We challenge all our detractors — large and small — to commit likewise,” Zarif wrote.

Iran showcases what it claims are parts of its newly-received S-300 missile defense batteries in Tehran on April 17, 2016. (Fars News Agency)
Iran showcases what it claims are parts of its newly-received S-300 missile defense batteries in Tehran on April 17, 2016. (Fars News Agency)

His column came days after Iran paraded what it claimed were parts of its newly received Russian-made S-300 air defense system, after months of speculation over whether Moscow would deliver the advanced weapon. Iranian media reports Friday said Iranian Defense Minister Hossein Dehghan is planning to raise the purchase of warplanes and tanks during an upcoming meeting with his Russian counterpart in Moscow.

Iran is also supporting Syrian President Bashar Assad in the bloody civil war that has claimed the lives of over 200,000 people, backing the Houthi rebels in Yemen, and funding the Hezbollah terror group in Lebanon.

On March 9, Iran tested two ballistic missiles, which an Iranian news agency said had the phrase “Israel must be wiped out” written on them in Hebrew, drawing calls from the Jewish state for additional sanctions against Tehran.

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