With a smile and an occasional joke, top Iranian official Dr. Javad Larijani, delivered a stern rebuke to the U.S. in New York Tuesday, describing President Obama as "incompetent" and calling this month's International Atomic Energy Agency report that found evidence of a nuclear weapons program in Iran "laughable."
Larijani, the Berkeley-educated Secretary General of Iran's High Council for Human Rights and advisor to the Chief Justice of Iran, also warned against military action against Iran's nuclear facilities, saying that the consequences of a military strike on Iran would be severe.
"The end" of those consequences, said Larijani, speaking to reporters during a media briefing, "is not in [the West's] hands. We will decide when it will cease. I would not recommend any president to try that."
One week after an IAEA report found evidence of a continued nuclear weapons program in Iran, Larijani called the report "a disgrace for the professionalism of this organization" and said it "contains items which are quite laughable." Larijani argued that many of the accusations in the report are based on the discovery of a 'mysterious laptop' that he implied was a plant. He added that the report is part of "an American strategy to create a bad atmosphere with Iran to push for more sanctions."
Larijani, who is one of a trio of powerful brothers that includes Sadegh Larijani, the chief justice, and Ali Larijani, chairman of the parliament, said he blamed Israel and Saudi Arabia for pushing the U.S. to attack Iran.
"Countries in the region want the US to go to war for themselves," he said. "Demonizing Iran is a bad policy."
In accusing Israel and Saudi Arabia of pushing the U.S. to war, Larijani said, "It seems everyone wants to consume blood of American soldiers for their own security." The Iranian government has long accused the Israelis of being involved in a shadow war against its nuclear program, and has blamed Mossad for the deaths of scientists inside Iran. But while the Israeli and Western media are rife with speculation that the Israelis may have been behind an explosion at an Iranian missile site last week that killed a top scientist, Larijani dismissed the blast as "an accident."
"Our best investigation could not find any outside threat," Larijani said.
When asked by ABC News if Iran had missed its best chance to reconcile with the U.S. after President Obama "extended his hand," he argued it was President Obama who "failed."
"He was incompetent or did not possess a vision," said Larijani. "The offer is not enough. We did not see any concrete steps."
Larijani said he believes that U.S. talk of military action, however, is mostly for "political use inside the U.S."
Iran Backs Assad Regime in Syria
One day after Jordan's King Abdullah recommended Syrian President Bashar Assad should step down in the midst of a brutal crackdown against an anti-government uprising, Larijani said Iran continues to stand shoulder to shoulder with its close ally and neighbor.
"Future relations with Syria will be as strong with Iran as they are now," he said.
He blamed the U.S. and Israel for sparking violence. Iran, he said, is "against using military force to interfere in this process in the region. The main objective is not helping Syria but helping Israel. The West should leave Syrian affairs to themselves."
Larijani had criticism for his own government as well, however. As an advisor to the judiciary and head of Iran's human rights council, he believes Iran executes too many people.
"I'm definitely not happy with the number of executions," he said. "I've been working hard on that but unfortunately didn't make progress."
He notes that 74 percent of executions in Iran are for drug-related crimes.
"Parliament has decided the law should be tough," said Larijani. "I do not agree with this law. It should be changed. If we change the law then 74 percent of executions will be dropped. The result of this law has not brought down trafficking or drug use."
Even Larijani's swipe at Iran, however, contained a rebuke for the West. He noted that most of those executed were involved in trafficking drugs to the West.