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The Alarming Implications of Vice President Rahimi's Speech

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In the controversy over Iran's nuclear program, Israel's policy of claiming that an Iranian nuclear weapon represents an existential threat has prompted Tehran's apologists to maintain that Israeli officials exaggerate the danger. In particular, these critics lambaste Israelis for comparing the theocratic clique running Tehran's government with the regime of Adolf Hitler in Nazi Germany. Such comparisons, argue the critics, are mere hyperbole; the Iranian leaders are rational, and even if they build nuclear weapons (as most experts on nuclear non-proliferation believe is their aim), Iran's rulers would only use a nuclear arsenal as a "deterrent," and no other country, including Israel or the Sunni Muslim governments astride the Persian Gulf, need fear an Iranian nuclear attack.

The speech delivered at a recent anti-drug conference in Tehran by Vice President Mohammad-Reza Rahimi, jointly sponsored by the United Nations and Iranian government, at which Western diplomats were present, appears to contradict the case for Iranian rationality being offered by the apologists for Iran's ruling circles. In reporting on the anti-drug conference in Tehran, The New York Times, usually cautious in its headlines, had the following banner description for its report; "Iran's Vice President Makes Anti-Semitic Speech At Forum."

Among the tidbits being offered by Vice President Rahimi, second only to President Ahmadinejad in the Iranian government hierarchy, to the stunned Western diplomats and even Iranian officials listening to his diatribe, was the claim that the drug trade was controlled by Jews and Zionists. As proof, Rahimi told the forum, "The Islamic Republic of Iran will pay for anybody who can research and find one single Zionist who is an addict... They do not exist. This is the proof of their involvement in drugs trade."

The number two man in the Iranian government then went on to tell the supposed U.N. co-sponsored anti-drug conference that Jews and Zionists were responsible for the Russian Revolution of 1917, in which, according to Rahimi, not one Jew died. For good measure, he also added that the Jewish religious text, the Talmud, is a racist document and that "Zionists" have ordered gynecologists to kill black babies.

The words that came out of the mouth of Iran's vice president could have come from Nazi Germany's propaganda minister Goebbels in 1938, or from a contemporary neo-Nazi hate pamphlet. That these words reflect the thinking of a top-level government official from a regime that appears to be seeking nuclear weapons capability, even in the face of international sanctions that are crippling to its citizens, should give all sensible people pause. Beyond the argument as to whether or not Iran's rulers are rational, would allowing such a regime to possess nuclear weapons and the ballistic missiles that could deliver them to any target in the world really be a rational act on the part of the rest of the world?