Cleric Criticizes US Double Standards on Chemical Weapons
TEHRAN (Tasnim) – A senior Iranian cleric questioned US sincerity in the fight against chemical weapons use, saying while it aided deposed Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussain to carry out chemical attacks, it wants to wage war on Syria based on a claim that its government used such weapons.
“They use Iran's nuclear issue as a pretext to put pressure on the country ... similarly, they use the chemical weapons attack in the case of Syria as a way to deceive public opinion," Ayatollay Seyed Ahmad Khatami, a member of the presiding board of the Assembly of Experts, said on Wednesday.
The cleric stressed that the main concern of the US and its allies is ensuring the security of Israel and damaging the "true Islam," which is mainly promoted by Iran.
He lashed out at the US for its double policy towards the use of chemical weapons, saying although it gave Saddam such weapons , which he used against his own people as well as Iranian civilains and troops, it now wants to punish the Syrian government for its alleged use of such weapons.
Foreign Policy had an exclusive report late last month that in 1988, during the waning days of Iraq's war against Iran, the United States learned through satellite imagery that Iran was about to gain a major strategic advantage by exploiting a hole in Iraqi defenses. It said US intelligence officials conveyed the location of the Iranian troops to Iraq, fully aware that Saddam's military would attack with chemical weapons, including sarin, a lethal nerve agent.
The US has been pushing for military action on Syria, after foreign-backed opposition forces accused President Bashar al-Assad’s government of carrying out a chemical attack on militant strongholds in the suburbs of Damascus on August 21, a charge the Syrian government has strongly denied.
And Syrian President Bashar al-Assad attacking with chemical weapons at a time UN chemical weapons experts were visiting Damascus would have been illogical.
US President Barack Obama, however, stopped short of ordering a strike on Saturday and said he would seek the endorsement of Congress for any assault on Syria.
But he has a tough task convincing a skeptical public before it strikes Syria. A Reuters/Ipsos poll showed some 56 percent of those surveyed said the United States should not intervene in Syria, while only 19 percent supported action. And the Congress, which Obama wants to give the green light for an attack, is deeply divided on the issue.