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Posted at 12:53 PM ET, 10/13/2011

Iran’s former president warns of U.S. retaliation for assassination plot

Iran’s former president Mohammad Khatami warned other Iranian leaders on Thursday of the possibility of a military attack by the United States, following charges that Iran was behind a plot to assassinate the Saudi Arabian ambassador to Washington, his personal Web site, Kkhatami.ir, reported.

Former Iranian president Mohammad Khatami speaks during a meeting with supporters in Tehran in 2009. (HASAN SARBAKHSHIAN - AP)
“I am worried because the pretexts for starting campaigns against Iran are constantly increasing, and escalation of the current pretext and use of any hostile language could have consequences that eventually only harm the Iranian people,” Khatami said.

He and his supporters have often criticized Iranian hard-liners for endangering foreign relations, by constantly making tough accusations in the international arena and by refusing any compromise on dossiers.

“Our political officials should be careful not to give the U.S. any pretext to target our security and territorial integrity,” Khatami said on his Web site.

 The remarks are an indication of how the alleged bomb plot could play a role in Iran’s upcoming elections in March 2012. Khatami is the unofficial leader of a group of politicians promoting reforms within Iran’s structure of power. He and his supporters demand more personal freedom, better relations with the outside world and less government interference in education and culture.

 Their opponents, groups affiliated with Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and factions around President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, strongly oppose the “reformists” as they are called, and many want to prevent them from participating in the upcoming elections.

 “By saying this, Khatami suggests that his candidates should massively be allowed to enter the elections,” said one analyst, speaking on the condition of anonymity. “Such a move would bring legitimacy to Iran’s political system at a time when it is cornered by the U.S,” he said.

 Dozens of leading reformist politicians have been arrested after they said Ahmadinejad’s 2009 election victory was marred by fraud. Their opponents say they are a “fifth column” for the United States.

 “We should all stand united with regards to any possible threats against our land and people, but at the same time also be more careful not to give any pretexts to others to raise such charges against us,” Khatami said.

By  |  12:53 PM ET, 10/13/2011

Tags:  World, Iran, Mohammad Khatami

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