Iran slams US sanctions but keeps mum on bombing indictment

Published June 25th, 2001 - 02:00 GMT

Iran slammed Friday, June 22, US moves towards maintaining unilateral sanctions on Tehran, but had no immediate reaction to accusations by Washington that it was involved in a fatal bomb blast in Saudi Arabia. 

 

Wednesday's vote by a House of Representatives committee was for renewing sanctions against companies investing in the Libyan and Iranian oil industries for five years instead of two as sought by the US administration. 

 

Iran's foreign ministry spokesman Hamid-Reza Asefi, quoted by the state news agency IRNA, said the sanctions contravened international law, and he pointed out that they would deprive US companies of the chance to compete with those of other countries in Iran. 

 

But Asefi made no comment on the US indictment of 14 people over a 1996 truck bomb that killed 19 US airmen in Saudi Arabia and which alleged that unnamed Iranian government officials supervised the operation. 

 

The Iranian government was headed at the time by president Akbar Hashemi-Rafsanjani, whose administration was also accused by a German court of assassinating opponents of the Islamic regime. 

 

Tehran, whose diplomatic relations with Washington were broken in 1980 in the wake of the Islamic revolution and the seizure of the US embassy by militants, has systematically denied any link to the bombing. 

 

On May 9, it rejected reports that Federal Bureau of Investigation director Louis Freeh had given the US administration a list of people, including Iranian government officials, whom he thought should be indicted. 

 

Asefi said "these baseless comments were put out by people worried because of the warming in relations between Iran and Saudi Arabia." 

 

"They are even more worried, and they show it, that Iran and Saudi Arabia have entered a new era with the signing of a collaboration agreement on security matters" on April 17, he added. 

 

The Iranian spokesman said "those who have made these accusations want to hurt the brotherly relations of Islamic countries in this important region." 

 

Saudi Foreign Minister Said al-Faisal, speaking after hosting his Iranian counterpart Kamal Kharazi on May 12, said, "It is not good to throw out here and there accusations on a matter for which the investigation has not been completed." 

 

On June 14 Asefi, speaking to AFP, dismissed as "groundless and unacceptable" lawsuits filed by two Americans held hostage and the family of a US national killed in captivity by the Iranian-backed Lebanese Hezbollah movement. 

 

Of the 14 people indicted over the Saudi bombing, 13 are said to be members of the outlawed Shiite Saudi Hezbollah, and one an unidentified Lebanese member of its Lebanese counterpart, who allegedly helped convert a fuel truck to carry the massive bomb. 

 

An official at Lebanese Hezbollah's office in Tehran contacted by AFP Friday dismissed the US accusations as "the usual propaganda".― (AFP, Tehran) 

 

© Agence France Presse 2001

© 2001 Mena Report (www.menareport.com)

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