Based on media reports from October 22, 2008


Based on media reports from October 22, 2008

"Senior Tehran officials are recommending a pre-emptive strike against Israel," believes Seyed Safavi, head of the Research Institute of Strategic Studies in Tehran. His interview was published in the Israeli Haaretz newspaper. According to the article, two weeks ago in London Safavi told foreign diplomats that such plans were currently under discussion.

According to Safavi, who is an adviser to Iran's Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, a pre-emptive strike against Israel to prevent an Israeli attack on Iran's nuclear facilities is being considered as a real option. However, this idea has not yet been approved by Tehran as a strategic plan.

The institute headed by Safavi is under the direct supervision of Khamenei and advises the leaders of Iran's Revolutionary Guards Corps on foreign policy and strategic challenges. Safavi is also the brother of Yahya Rahim Safavi, who was the head of the Revolutionary Guards until a year ago and who is now a close adviser to Khamenei. Therefore, as Haaretz notes, Seyed Safavi holds significant influence and is a well-informed insider whose words cannot be disregarded.

In London, Safavi said that a small but very experienced group of Iranian politicians and military officers is lobbying for a pre-emptive strike against Israel. Safavi's statement can be seen as a response by Iranian leaders to recent declarations by certain Israeli politicians about the necessity of striking Iranian nuclear facilities. While in London, Safavi also said that Iran's nuclear program is intended for peaceful purposes only, and that the country's military force is prepared to answer any attack. He also noted that a victory by U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama would "pave the way for dialogue with Washington."

Information about Safavi's statements in London appeared in the media while a large offensive air force exercise was drawing to a close in Iran, close to the Turkish border. Iranian military personnel are making no secret of the fact that Israel was regarded as the probable enemy during the exercise.