Sunday, August 27, 2006

Iran, America and Shah Reza Pahlavi, Missing Fingernails...

An Ex-Official Offers Glimpse of Iranian Views of U.S.

TEHRAN, Aug. 27 — A former high-ranking Iranian official wants Americans to see his cracked thumbnails. They were torn out, he said, after Washington’s friend, Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi, put him in prison in the 1970’s.

His point is instantly clear: look at what happened when we had close ties to the United States.

“I was a medical student,” said the man, Ali Muhammad Besharati, a former interior minister and deputy foreign minister. “But they put me in prison because I opposed American dominance in Iran.”

In the continuing conflict over Iran’s nuclear program, there are disputes over enrichment of uranium, discussions of heavy water reactors, and accusations over the government’s intentions. But to listen to Dr. Besharati is to hear the fight described as Tehran’s frontline effort to block American influence in the region and to never again allow Washington to have an upper hand in Iran.

That attitude is obvious among Iran’s current leaders, who see this not just as a battle over nuclear weapons but a fight for survival against a far more powerful enemy that has lumped them into an “axis of evil” and allocated millions of dollars to oust the government, political analysts and Western diplomats here said.

Dr. Besharati, too, echoed the idea that giving in on the nuclear front would not solve Iran’s problems with Washington, only aggravate them.

“I would like you to write this down,” he said, speaking through an interpreter. “If we backed down on the nuclear issue, the U.S. would have found fault with our medical doctors researching stem cells.”