Iran said on Sunday it has arrested members of a terrorist network linked to Israel who planned a number of bombings in the capital ahead of the June presidential election, even as Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said that Iran was ready to back a Palestinian deal with Israel.
"A terrorist team of deceived elements linked to the Zionist elements were arrested," Intelligence Minister Gholam Hossein Mohseni Ejeie was quoted as saying by the official IRNA news agency.
He said the group "planned to carry out a number of bombings in Tehran on the threshold of the presidential election" to be held on June 12 but gave no details of when and how many people had been arrested.
Backing a Palestinian-Israeli Deal
Ahmadinejad meantime said it would be "fine with us" if the Palestinians reach a "two state" peace deal with Israel, despite his opposition to the "racist" Jewish nation.
The firebrand leader, in an interview broadcast Sunday with U.S. network ABC, appeared unhappy with President Barack Obama’s failure to return a message of greetings and said nuclear negotiations could only proceed with a clear agenda.
After triggering a storm with anti-Israel remarks at a United Nations racism conference in Geneva, which prompted a walkout by European diplomats, Ahmadinejad attacked Obama’s "support of the massacre of Gazans, in support for the criminals who were responsible for that atrocity."
But he also appeared to hold out a potential olive branch in backing the Palestinians’ right to pursue a deal for statehood alongside Iran’s arch-enemy.
"Whatever decision they take is fine with us. We are not going to determine anything. Whatever decision they take, we will support that," Ahmadinejad said through an interpreter in the interview, which was taped Wednesday in Tehran.
"We think that this is the right of the Palestinian people, however we fully expect other states to do so as well," Ahmadinejad said, without saying whether Iran might recognize the Jewish nation as part of a "two state" agreement.
Not the First Time
It is not the first time that Iran has pointed a finger at Israel for allegedly backing those who seek to destabilize the Islamic republic. In November 2008, Iran said it hanged an Iranian telecoms salesman convicted of spying for Israel.
Israel has led the efforts to sideline Iran diplomatically and impose restraints on its nuclear program. Iran does not recognize Israel and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad accused the Jewish state or being a racist regime at a United Nations racism conference last week.
Shortly after the execution Tehran’s prosecutor said he would seek the death penalty for another three Iranians accused of being Israeli spies by gathering information on Iranian nuclear and military programs.
Ahmadinejad is expected to run for a second four-year term in the June 12 election.
Former Prime Minister Mirhossein Mousavi, who advocates detente with the West, is expected to be Ahmadinejad’s main moderate challenger in the presidency race.
Earlier in April, Iran executed three people convicted of being involved in the bombing of a mosque which killed 14 Iranians in the southern city of Shiraz in 2007.
Tehran had accused the United States of arming and training those behind the blast and said Britain and Israel were also involved. Washington and London have denied Iran’s accusation.
(Alarabiya.net, PC and Agencies)