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Iranian defense chief boasts of domestic military prowess

Opposition figure Mousavi calls for national referendum on Ahmadinejad

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Iranian defense chief boasts of domestic military prowess

In a televised speech on Wednesday, Iranian Defense Minister Ahmad Vahadi boasted of the technological prowess of Iran’s military industrial complex, insisting his nation was now self-sufficient in its ability to building weapons systems and was even exporting armaments to some 50 nations.

"At the moment the Islamic Republic is at the height of power and is able to export defense products," Vahadi said, adding that the country, which has been under an arms embargo since the Islamic Revolution in 1979, has built the industrial capacity to produce military equipment and weapons, as well as electronic, radar and optical projects.

The semi-official Press TV station broadcast the remarks by Vahadi, who is wanted by Interpol in connection with the 1994 car bomb attack on the AMAI Community Center in Buenos Aries, Argentina.

In related news, Foreign Policy magazine published a report on Wednesday detailing Iran’s efforts to export aspects of its renegade nuclear program to Venezuela, currently ruled by anti-Western strongman Hugo Chavez. Chavez announced last week that he had ordered a preliminary study of Venezuela’s nuclear potential and that his plans were solely for the peaceful use of nuclear technology.

The deepening political, diplomatic, economic and technological ties between Chavez and the regime of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is causing unease among Venezuela’s neighbors, especially Colombia and Brazil, both of whom have had serious diplomatic and even military clashes with Venezuela over the past few years.

Venezuela has also been accused of assisting Iran in circumventing UN sanctions and of harboring dozens of illegal front companies which assist Iran in laundering money and supporting a vast network of terror operators throughout Latin America, particularly among its large Lebanese Shi’ite expat community, under the command of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps.

Back in Iran, opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi proclaimed on Tuesday that Ahmadinejad's foreign policies have been a curse for Iran and that his performance as president should be put to a popular referendum.

"Who has given you the permission to put the country against the entire world through adventurism and dictatorship that has led to the current grave economic and political situation?" Mousavi said on his website, "Don't cry hurray for yourself. Hold a referendum to see whether the people recognize these destructive policies or not."

Mousavi’s protests are almost all that’s left of domestic political opposition in Iran, after a brutal crackdown by security forces loyal to Ahmadinejad arrested and assassinated most of the other leaders and jailed hundreds of their followers, intimidating the rest into silence.


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