BERLIN (JTA) — A high-level Iranian official said that Iran will not dialogue with the United States until Iran has a nuclear bomb.
Remarks by the secretary general of Iranian Hezbollah were reported in Berlin from a March 26 symposium on "Iran, Hamas and Hezbollah: Anti-Semitism and Holocaust Denial."
Ayatollah Mohammad Baqer Kharrazi reportedly told the Iranian state news agency Shabestan that Iran "will arrange contacts to America as soon as we build our own bomb."
"If one is not allowed to build an atom bomb, then no contacts are allowed. And if there are to be contacts, then it will be necessary to build the atom bomb," Kharrazi said, according to a translation from the original Farsi, reported by Wahied Wahdat-Hagh, a senior research fellow at the European Foundation for Democracy.
Officially, the Iranian government dismissed the recent Persian New Year greeting and overture from President Obama, insisting that the United States has to be the first to change its approach.
Obama’s offer for dialogue is a good first step but it is likely doomed to fail, said Israeli scholar David Menashri, head of the Center for Iranian Studies at Tel Aviv University, one of several speakers at the symposium.
"You can’t do anything serious against Iran without dialogue first," said Menashri, adding that he had been roundly criticized in Israel for espousing this view. "You have to signal that you will come to the table.
"But Iranians don’t like dialogue. They achieve what they want without it. Obama is serious: He wants dialogue, and if that doesn’t work, then one has to move to phase 2," which is more intense pressure on Iran.
The symposium was hosted by an independent academic forum, the International Institute for Education, Social Research and Anti-Semitism Research, together with the Yale Initiative for the Study of Anti-Semitism and the Center for Iranian Studies in Tel Aviv. It was supported by the Berlin State Agency for Civic Education and the New York-based Legacy Heritage Fund.