Speech by Dr. Ephraim Kam on Iranian Security

February 19, 2004

Weapon Program: 

  • Nuclear

Publication: 

Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies

(Note: The following seminar was recorded on-site by the FNS Middle East Bureau, and is provided courtesy of the Jaffe Center for Strategic Studies at Tel Aviv University. For information on upcoming or past events of the Jaffe Center for Strategic Studies, please contact jcss2@post.tau.ac.il. For further information on FNS Middle East seminar coverage, or to arrange for coverage of your Arabic, Hebrew or English event, please contact liz@fednews.com)

(Note: The following was translated from Hebrew)

CHAIRMAN: We're moving to the last speaker of the session -- in fact the guest of honor -- Dr. Ephraim Kam. And this is an opportunity to join the long line of his congratulators on the publication of his new book. I can even say to you that after receiving your book, I started reading it yesterday. So I can recommend it not only based upon the thickness and the cover, but also based upon the contents. Dr. Kam is Deputy Director of the Jaffe Center. He has a long line of research studies and publications, which deal not only with Iran, but also with the issue of national security and defense concepts in the surrounding region. In fact, he will tie up the -- conclude the panel and tie up the loose ends -- ideology, politics and statesmanship -- how things are expressed at that next level, which is important to the understanding of Iran, which is Iran's defense concept. Ephraim, please.

(Applause)

(Off-Mike)

EPHRAIM KAM: Good morning.

CHAIRMAN: To you, too.

EPHRAIM KAM: Since for me this seminar is unlike the other seminars I've been involved in, in their preparation, I thought it right to take a few minutes of my allocated time to say a few personal words on my relationship to the Iranian issue. And since the time of Purim is close at hand, I guess that like many in this hall and in general, my first encounter with the Iranian issue was in my childhood through the Book of Esther. And over the years, I got used to seeing not only the Jewish aspect of the salvation story of the Jews of Persia as told in the scroll, but also to see the other aspect -- the Persian, and the character of King Xerxes (Ahasuerus). I've noticed two things -- first, his richness and greatness. As the scroll says, 'He 's Xerxes, ruling from India to Ethiopia, seven and twenty and one hundred states' -- an empire. India is India, Ethiopia refers to modern-day Sudan, nearly the entire Middle East. I'll get to the point shortly, when we talk of Iran's defense concept today.

And the second thing -- truly Xerxes is shown in the scroll as quite big a fool, who doesn't know exactly what's happening in his own back yard and is under the influence of his advisors. But in his relationship with the Jewish people, he joins his forefathers -- kings of Persia, Koresh and Darius -- and also his son Artaxerxes (Artahshasta) who, for ideological religious reasons made a decisive contribution to an unprecedented phenomenon with the people of Israel -- and maybe even in human history -- to the return to Zion, and to the revival of the Second Temple of the Jewish people. And I wonder sometimes what do they think? What did Khomenei think of that? What do Khamenei and his friends think of that? After Meir has spoken in length of their relationship to Israel -- one of actually denying in principle the existence of the State of Israel -- what do they think of their forefathers from 2500 years ago? But my professional acquaintance with the Iranian issue began many years later, when in June of 1978 I was appointed Head of the Superpowers Department in the Research Division of Military Intelligence -- a department responsible for the entire world, except for the Arab Middle East. Iran was included. And I had there a junior officer, a lieutenant who alone was in charge of all of Asia and Africa. These were the proportions then. The Iranian subject was included therein. I invited him for a discussion to get acquainted. And I asked him -- assuming I wouldn't have time to deal with the Iranian issues too much at the beginning, I asked him 'What's the most important thing I should know -- should know -- about Iran at this point?' He told me 'Nothing. I've been in this position for a year and a half. No one has asked me anything about the Iranian subject. We have an embassy there. There's an attache office. When there's a need, they ask them, not us.' Some time passed since I'd entered this position, and he came to me one day and placed a telegram on my desk. I've never seen such a telegram in all my time in the General Intelligence Division -- a unique, long, detailed telegram. Rare, I'd say. And it was written by the departing ambassador of that time in Tehran, Uri Lubrani, who's sitting here in the audience. And I'm glad he's sitting here in the audience. And the telegram said -- in its bottom line, it pointed out a series of elements which were developing, and might bring about the fall of the Shah's regime. If you'd like, that's actually the hidden hand in the Book of Daniel, on which was written on the wall:

(Spoken in Persian)

Farsi in both senses, if you'd like.

Things were unacceptable. The Shah was among the oldest rulers in the world -- 37 years in power. The army supported him completely. He seemed to be stable -- very stable. But the wisdom of this telegram's writer -- of Uri -- was that he was smart enough to watch, and sometimes not only the above-ground level things that not many saw -- and there were many -- but also the underground flows. The hidden ones. And a few weeks later those hidden flows started to suddenly rise above ground. And in front of -- I'd say -- our astonished eyes, occurred a phenomena which was fascinating to the researchers -- the collapse of the foundation stones of the Iranian regime -- of the Shah's regime -- one by one until the regime collapsed completely. And in the same process -- which was hard to swallow -- I think Uri's telegram stood in front of us, more than any other information, to help us understand, several weeks or months earlier than the American intelligence community, which had its own concept, that the Shah's regime might not survive this crisis. And indeed it didn't. Two years I left the Iranian issue to move to other research areas. But the Iranian issue has a great force of gravity. It's extremely wide. It has historical depth, conventional and unconventional intensity. It has a religious ideological dimension, a struggle against a complex foreign policy, economical aspects, geopolitical aspects. It affects almost every country in the Middle East, including us. In short, I'd call it every researcher's greatest wish. And so I returned to the Iranian subject half way through the 1990's. The result is this book, which is the cause for this seminar. I'd like to say a few thanks and finish up this part.

First of all, I owe a lot of gratitude to my friends at Jaffe Center for Strategic Studies. I'll only say a researcher can't expect to get any more than what I got in this center -- with the intellectual environment and the supportive criticism, and the collective knowledge of its members; with the practical experience of many of them; with the professional collegiality and the willingness to assist. I must thank especially the head of the center, my friend Shai, who supported me throughout (in my efforts) on the work of this book -- especially when it took longer than was expected. And Shai - I don't think he ever said it to me, but I felt there were times during this period when he didn't believe the book would be published. Now the book is published. And I feel in this aspect that I've paid a debt back to the Center. I'm also very thankful to the audience here -- both those who sat or will sit on the stage, and the audience who came here. There are many friends of mine here, who were with me all along the path or parts of my professional path, I'm glad they're here. And if this book and the seminar contribute to the understanding of the very complicated Iranian subject, it's an additional benefit. Last, to my family. They were probably among the main victims of 'The Iranian Threat.' Even when they couldn't stop the flow of papers coming home for years, even when I put aside -- over and over -- tending to some domestic matters, with the excuse which lasted for years, that all would be right when the book is finished. So now I'm saying, 'The book is finished. Payback time has arrived. No more excuses.' Now, to the subject itself -- Iran's defense concept.

I'd say that -- for the opening, I'll say two remarks. One, we have to understand I think that Iran is required to deal with defense problems of a different caliber than we as the State of Israel are required to deal with. Two examples in a sentence or two.

One example. We're required here to deal with the Arab threat -- a regional threat, important as it is. Iran is required to deal not only with regional threats -- Iraq for example -- but also with a superpower threat. An important part of the confrontation in Iran -- USSR in the past, Russia in the more recent past, and the United States today -- is dealing with superpowers. And the second example. The wars in the Middle East. We here have gone through a series of wars -- and I don't know if they're over -- between ourselves and the Arab countries. Iran has been through one war, but it was the longest war ever in the Middle East. The Iraq-Iran war was longer than World War I, longer than World War II. Iran -- it's a war that cost Iran more than 200,000 dead -- 10 times that of all Israelis. It was a war in which more than 500 missiles were shot at Iran -- where not one or two were killed, but rather thousands and thousands. A chemical war which also brought many dead. These were security problems of a different caliber than we know from several aspects. The second remark I want to make -- I think most defense elements, most of the ingredients of Iran's defense concept, have undergone important changes since the Revolution, due to several reasons. First of all, the Revolution raised new concepts, new ideas, new ideologies -- a different point of view disconnecting from the United States which was, until the Revolution, Iran's main ally. Hostility towards Israel who was also an ally -- a smaller one of course -- of Iran. The idea of exporting the Revolution -- on which I'll say a sentence or two later -- and all the influence of Iran's buildup program, the creation of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps and all -- I'd say all this issue of the Iranian threat is a term that is very much related to the Revolution. So that's one factor.

The second factor is the upheavals that occurred within Iran's strategic environment. The war between Iraq and Iran, the two wars in the Gulf , the collapse of the Soviet Union -- all of these had a very profound effect, I believe, over the way the Iranians view the world around them, and their method of dealing with their problems. The Iraq-Iran war was maybe, in my opinion, the most influential factor -- a war in which Iran emerged the loser, the damaged side. And at the end of the war, when Iran looked around and saw itself as inferior to the Iraqis, almost to all the Middle East -- you know, it had very little left of its armored corps. Its air force hardly functioned during the war, and had no real independence sources of arms. It had no actual military industry. The United States was a hostile factor -- it cut the entire arms and military equipment supply to Iran. The USSR was more supportive of Iraq. And the Iranians said to themselves, 'We have to do everything to ensure this doesn't happen again.'

Then came the Gulf War. And then came the war in Iraq last year. And the map has been changed again, and Iran has adjusted to it. The Iraqi threat, which was the primary threat to Iran, mostly in the 1980s and the beginning of the 1990s, has suddenly disappeared -- collapsed. So I think another influence is added. The Iranians watch the Americans in both wars in the Gulf and suddenly see war of a different caliber.

How can a superpower which is connected to the modern battlefield defeat -- within days and weeks -- the biggest army in the Middle East, the Iraqi army? To the Iranians, this is an important lesson about the way they have to cope with their defense problems.

I'd also add that both wars in the Gulf and the Iran-Iraq war even more, have illustrated to the Iranians a very central issue in their defense concept -- which is the importance of the Gulf's security. This is a very important factor in the Iranian point of view. And after all, I'd say that the changes which occurred in the Islamic Revolution in Iran during the last 10-15 years have changed the emphasis in their view from the immediate threat -- the Iraqi, the Afghan, if you'd like -- to the distant threat -- mainly the American threat, on which we'll speak soon, and to some extent maybe in their opinion also the Israeli threat. Now I'll go to the defense concept itself.

I assume that somewhere in the Iranian General Staff's Planning Division, maybe in Iran's National Security Council, there's a document which codifies some way or another Iran's defense concept. I haven't seen this document. It has never been published. But assuming there is, I'll do what I can to try and reconstruct parts of it based on Iranian sayings, Iranian actions, and this is actually what I want -- to give you the summary. And you may observe a country's defense concept, including Iran's defense concept, in different angles, from a different view. I'll try and build it in three levels.

One is Iran's threat concept -- how Iran sees the system of threats directed at it.

The second level is Iran's strategic goals, and the factors affecting both their production and the ability to bring them into reality. That's the second level. And the third level is the answer. What is the answer Iran -- Iran is trying to set to its defense problems, both against the threats, and to progress in its strategic goals. These are the three levels I want to deal with. First we'll take Iran's threat concept.

So I'd say that Iran sees itself as lying in a dangerous place -- storms all around, threats from every direction. Iraq on one side, Afghanistan, the Soviet Union-Russia in the past, the Gulf countries who host the American presence in the Gulf, the United States who interferes in the Gulf almost from every direction. Anyway, a dangerous area. These are not existential threats. I don't think the Iranians perceive in front of them a threat that jeopardizes their actual existence as a country. That's not the case. But they do see threats to their territorial wholeness, to their financial assets, to their strategic goals and the stability of the regime and Islam. These are not the most focused threats, these are not threats of 'first thing in the morning', immediate, but more likely threats they see as potentially high-risk for the future, which can also complement in the future, especially with the American threat, with the United States. Another thing we should say is that changes occurred over time. If you go to Tehran today, and ask an Iranian -- the Iranian leadership, the Iranian people -- 'What do you think is the number one threat?' most likely they'd say, 'Today it is the United States'. Today, for the last 10-15 years. But if you travel back -- let's say in a time machine -- 10-15 years backwards, to the end of the 1980s, the beginning of the 1990s, and ask the Iranians in Tehran the same question, the answer would be different. The answer would be 'Iraq'. It is Iraq after the tough war between the two countries. And if you travel back another 12-15 years -- in Tehran it's the end of the Shah's period -- and ask an Iranian, 'What do you think is the number one threat?' The threat isn't Iraq. Definitely not the United States, who was then an ally country -- (it's) the USSR.

Meaning, within 25 years, within one generation, the entire Iranian threat concept and the ratings of the threat in the Iranian opinion has gone through a big change three times.

Now, it's not only a matter of academics, a matter of definition, how you play with definition of threat in the Iranian point of view. It has very realistic consequences, because it's one thing dealing with the USSR, a second thing dealing with Iraq, and a third thing dealing with the United States again, as a superpower. And we understand what it's like to deal with a superpower. I repeat that over and over again. It makes sense that they react to changes. We went over them earlier. The rise of the Islamic regime, the Gulf wars, the collapse of the Soviet Union. I'd like to make a remark or two regarding the main threats: First of all, the Russian threat. For many years, Russia, and then USSR, held maybe the first place in the Iranian threat conception. I happened, in the end of the Shah's period, to listen to an Iranian official presenting Iran's threat conception. Of course, they didn't speak of the United States, who was an ally. They hardly spoke of Iraq, maybe 10% of the time. 90% of the time they spoke of the USSR. Of its threat over Iran, including the obstacles that might bother the Soviet army of the USSR, who had a border with Iran then, near the Persian Gulf, in their attempt to get to warm water resources that were so important to the USSR. The Soviet, Russian threat, which also means -- whose meaning was also based on the fact that the USSR during this century occupied parts of northern Iran twice, that in the previous century -- the 19th century -- annexed parts of Iran to itself, which were eventually returned, the fear of Communism, the fear of the Soviet interference in Afghanistan in the late 1980s. Therefore the entire mindset -- most of Iran's preoccupation was aimed at the USSR at the relevant time. The second thing -- the second ingredient -- is the Iraqi threat. There is a long history of relations between these two countries in the context of threat. If you'd like, the source of the trouble comes from the time of Assyria and Babylon, -- the Iraqi kingdoms -- facing Persia and Media -- the Iranian kingdoms. And the Iranians know the Iraqi threat is a constant threat, with ever-changing ups and downs -- a kind of spearhead, I'd even call it, of the Arab world in the meaning of Arabs against Persians. And in all that, the recent history. I've already said, the Iraq-Iran war was a first-rate designing factor in its influence on Iran's threat conception and its defense concept. The most important part of these two matters occurred during recent years. The USSR collapsed. And today there is no shared border between Iran and the USSR. There are instead the republics that were a part of the USSR.

In this aspect I -- it was very important to me to address the future somehow. Maybe things will change someday. But for 10-15 years, the Soviet threat grew smaller. On the contrary, the USSR became -- sorry. Russia became a factor supportive of Iran both in the military and in other aspects.

Prior to that, Iraq -- the Iraqi threat was beaten in the first Gulf War, and collapsed completely over the last year, with Iraq's occupation by the United States. So here occurred a very significant change in Iran's threat concept. But on the other hand, a different change occurred here in the Iranian point of view, which is the rise of the American threat which started in the 1980s, in fact, with the Revolution, grew in the 1980s towards the end of the Iraq-Iran War, and again in the first Gulf War, and achieved a peak, maybe, over the last year or two. And the Iranians see the Americans as a threat from several aspects. I'd say, first of all, the spearhead of Western culture which is rejected by the regime -- the radical regime -- a superpower that strives for the collapse of the Islamic regime, a superpower that acts to break the Iranian domination in its area, which turns the Gulf countries against Iran, which strives to weaken Iran both militarily and economically, which wants to remove it from the security arrangements in the Gulf, and beyond all that, a superpower that might also act against Iran. And the Iranians have read correctly I think from their point of view, the meaning of the American interference in Iraq over the last 10-15 years, and especially in the last year. Because the United States went to war in Iraq last year both due to Iraq's involvement in terrorism, and primarily for the American involvement in developing -- the Iraqi, in developing weapons of mass destruction. And went -- for these reasons, it went and overthrew the Iraqi regime. To the Iranians, these reasons apply to themselves.

It's not that they were so afraid the Americans might repeat the move -- the move in Iraq also in Iran. That's hard to imagine. By they do fear the possibility that the Americans will attack targets in Iran, especially targets related to the Iraqi -- Iranian nuclear program. And that's in their opinion, I'd say, of the most severe possibility of the American threat on them. And they consider the possibility of an American attack in Iran -- especially in limited scenarios, like what I said against nuclear targets -- as a response to terrorist acts in which Iran might be involved, such as assisting the Gulf countries against Iranian threats. Not so much a global attack. So this is the most important meaning of the threat system the Iranians see -- the Iraqi threat and the Soviet-Russian threat that collapsed, and the American threat that is highly increased, especially over the last 10-15 years.

One last remark -- as an addition to Meir's presentation before me -- on the Israeli threat.

I'd say that over the last 10-15 years, since the early 90's, the Israeli threat grew greatly in the Iranian opinion. I'd say that until the 90's it was actually a nuisance. Israel was thought of as a nuisance, and not a threat. Since the 90's -- and moreover as we got near the late 90's and today -- it became a threat, when the Iranian speak on the threats against them, they mentioned it together with the United States, or right after the United States -- 'The Big Satan' and 'The Little Satan'. This expression is familiar. But more than that, since the Iraqi threat collapsed, and since the Soviet threat decreased substantially and maybe collapsed as well, there are these two threats, which are connected, from the Iranian point of view, to each other -- the American threat and the Israeli threat. And we have to make a clear distinction here. They know that the Israeli threat does not create an existential threat to them, and its meaning is not comparable to that of the Iranian threat. But it does seem a threat to them. It does stem from the fact that Israel activates the United States -- tries to push the United States -- to hurt Iran. Again, the Iranians see Israel in a way as the United States' tail. But it's the tail which wags the dog, and not the dog which wags the tail. They also fear the possibility that Israel will strike strategic targets in Iran, especially targets related to the Iranian nuclear program. So this is not a threat of the calibers of the Iraqi and Soviet threats of the past, or the American threat today, but definitely a threat that becomes more and more important to the Iranians. That's about the threat system.

I'll try and say a couple of things about the influencing factors and Iran's national goals. I'd say first of all, among Iran's national goals there are those you'll find in any country -- goals related to the continuity of the regime, to assuring the general security, to assuring the territorial wholeness etc. In that respect, there's nothing new. What I do say, though, is that within the Iranian goals there are two distinct goals, which are different in Iran compared to most other countries in the region. One is striving towards regional domination -- and in that, I'd say Iran isn't the only one. Also, the Iranian Islamic regime isn't the only one to set striving towards regional domination as its main purpose. The Shah's regime also wanted to achieve that. But the Iranian regime tends to be more blunt for all the reasons I've mentioned. Because it was an empire, because Iran is a big country with a large population, with a big territory -- a country which wishes to influence what happens around it. Therefore the meaning of domination -- striving for regional domination -- isn't striving for territorial expansion, which the Iranians don't put among their goals. It is more of a need to influence what happens in their region, and first of all the Persian Gulf region, which is the most critical region to Iran. There lies the threat against them. That's the area through which the flow of oil passes, which is key to the Iranian economy. That's where the Americans are. In a lot of ways this is the main threat in Iran's opinion. And that's why there's great emphasis, of the highest degree, on the issue of the Gulf region. So, that's one characteristic.

The second characteristic was mentioned earlier and I'd like to say a sentence or two about it -- the issue of exporting the Revolution. It's unique to the Iranian regime. There is no other country -- at least not in the Middle East -- which set itself such a goal as exporting the Revolution. But despite its centrality, there is no clear definition of what is 'exporting the Revolution'. Among Iranian leaders there are different views and different perceptions of the issue of exporting the Revolution. In general Iranians see the Revolution in Iran as the starting point of a general revolution in the Muslim world. But there is a central question -- is the use of force a part of exporting the Revolution?

There were Ruhani and Khomenei, and then Khamenei, who said, 'No. The use of force is not among the tools we should use to export the Revolution. The export of the Revolution should be achieved by propaganda, by explanation, by realization, not by the use of force.' That's also why in the last 10-15 years, mainly since the death of Khomenei, we see moderation in Iranian Revolution export-related expressions. Because -- both because there is a growing awareness toward this term in other Muslim countries, and because in reality it didn't work -- exporting the Revolution. Although it exists in a limited way in Lebanon, it has failed, eventually. Also because Iran is paying a political price for this expression, for using this term. And also because Iran dealt with other issues such as its internal problems. Also due to the lessening of the revolutionary rage after Khomenei's death. So they emphasize more of the national interests -- defensive -- and less of the ideological interests such as exporting the Revolution. However the expression survived. It has a life of its own. In many countries -- especially Muslim and Arab -- most of this phrase with all its vague meaning has an important part in exhausting the Iranian threat on them. I'll keep short what I wanted to say on the factors influencing these goals. And I'll go directly to the question of the last issue -- the issue of the Iranian reply. If these are the issues Iran faces, what is the actual reply Iran presents -- is ready to present, is supposed to present, sees appropriate to present against these threats? I'd say first of all, the Iranians don't say that explicitly. But inside their speech, I'd say first of all, I found the best expression -- the most accurate one -- to define the goals Iran wants to achieve in things said by the Iranian Defense Minister, Ali Shamkhani, four or five years ago. He presented six goals Iran has to achieve, and also explained how to achieve a few of these goals. These six goals are -- securing the borders, the sovereignty and the interests against any foreign threat; building a strategic space in the area surrounding Iran; strategic balance using self reliance; amassing of arms and an arm race, and using regional cooperation for this build; preventing elements from outside the region from affecting its defense problems; and active deterrence. In these six parts there are three things I want to talk about. One is the self-reliance. That's a central point in the entire security concept, in the face Iran tries to present. And Iran got to this term of self-reliance also as a result of the distress it underwent during the Iraq-Iran War -- both for the cut from the United States, which deprived it of the entire ability -- of any ability to achieve American Western weapons and parts to repair anything it had since the era of the Shah, both for the rivalry with a part of the Arab world, and also for the trouble in getting weapons from other places, not only Western and American. And therefore the concept says you can get help from other elements. But don't depend on them. You can let others have a part in securing Iran. But this assistance should only supplement what Iran has to develop for its self-fortifiaction. That's why the Iranian point of view emphasizes the Iranian defense industry, the ability to develop on its own long-range weapons, or long-range missiles -- and above all, weapons of mass-destruction -- and at the top, nuclear weapons. So, here comes the second part. Military strategic power is the key to Iran's security. And this power is expressed first of all in the will to build long-range artillery -- a large part of which wasn't achieved, both for financial difficulties and for other reasons I won't get into at the moment. But eventually the concept is to get to a modern, big, conventional army. And since such progress takes time, a long time, the emphasis moved starting in the early 1990s to the non-conventional area. Because this is an area in which you can achieve faster and more impressive results that will provide Iran with security against its threats. The third part is the deterrence, a very central ingredient in Iran's defense concept like many other countries. And I'd say that after all. There's a problem here. How do you deter an element like Iraq? How do you deter an element like the United States, or Russia in the past? How do you deter a superpower? When it's clear to Iran that the power relations between itself and Iraq in the past, the United States and Russia in the past, are such that are explicitly not in their favor? And above all, what interests Iranians is deterrence against the United States.

How do you build deterrence against the superpower that has proven twice its readiness and ability to interfere in the Middle East, by use of big military force, and therefore threatens Iran? The Iranian answer is partial and vague -- building what they can, in order to create a limited response ability to the American threat; building offensive ability against American devices and destinies in the Middle East, mainly in the Gulf region; creating the threat on the use of the Gulf for sailing in the Gulf, which is a substantial American interest, including mainly the flow of oil; and creating weapons of mass destruction which when developed will pose a response -- at least partial -- to the American threat. The Iranians believe that when they achieve a nuclear bomb, they'll have a good ability to respond to the American threat. Not equality of powers, but a good reply that will convince the Americans they'll pay such price if they try and hurt Iran. From here -- out of this also arises also the deterrence system against Israel. Iran has no actual ability to hurt Israel as of today. It starts developing such ability today when it already has a long-range missile -- the 'Shehab 3' -- which covers the entire territory of Israel, as a limited start. And it has a more developed ability to hurt Israel, by terror. That's the major meaning of Iranian threat to Israel today -- the involvement in terror through Hezbollah during the last 20 years, and growing involvement in the Palestinian terror against Israel especially over the last two years under the cover of the uprising. This is Iran's deterrence conception against Israel -- convincing Israel that if it tries to hurt Iran and attack targets in Iran, it'll pay. And in that you see that terrorism is considered not explicitly as a part of Iran's defense concept. You'll never find the data because Iran never admits its involvement in terror. Iran actually says it's a terror victim, so obviously it's not the initiator of terror. But I think that inside things, inside the Iranian involvement in terror against its various destinies -- whether it's the government's enemies, if it's Arab or Muslim goals, if these are Western goals, American or French, and if it's against Israel -- in here is the message to the terror victims: 'If you hurt us, know that you're vulnerable to terrorism.' A last remark I'd like to mention -- last two remarks I'd like to mention.

I think that eventually, as of today, Iran's security concept is defensive -- defensive and deterrent, if you'd please -- not yet offensive. What brings me to this conclusion is the fact that deterrence is a key ingredient in this concept, because Iran emphasizes over and over -- and I think truthfully -- that it has no territorial claims against other countries. Because it doesn't project offensive initiatives. At the most it projects threats to reply on other threats, but not threats in the meaning of initiating one and offensive aims at other countries, including Israel. But here we have to continue questioning. Iran hasn't developed an offensive security concept because it was too weak. And the question is therefore if have they developed more distinct offensive aspects in the Iranian power, wouldn't that change its concept? Are they striving for domination, and maybe even to exporting the Revolution -- which I just said is weakening? Wouldn't it lead eventually to an offensive concept? Will the changes in the area seem to Iran as powerful, or maybe opportunities to a more offensive approach? These are questions we have to observe in the future.

And the last question -- one which I'll also answer in a sentence or two -- has the Iranian defense concept attained its goals? I'd say, on one hand, Iran hasn't been attacked since the early '90s, since the end of the war with Iraq. But on the other hand, the deterrence didn't work against Iraq when Iraq invaded Iran in 1980. And today Iraq doesn't act against Iran because of the deterrence concept, but rather because Iraq itself was weakened. The deterrence against the United States so far hasn't been tested. It hasn't passed the test. And also the question of self-reliance hasn't provided the answer yet. Will this provide a satisfying answer to the Iranian aim eventually?

We won't rely on others, and instead get achieve complete self-reliance.

I believe we'll know if this is a move that'll take years. We're still in the first or middle stages, no more than that. If in the end I'd come and say the - that's the last sentence I want to say. I think Iran's defense concept and the Iranian strengthening provide Iran with a good answer against the regional threats -- Iraq which in the meantime collapsed, the Gulf countries, other countries -- but still it hasn't got a satisfying answer to the United States. Thank you very much.

(Applause)

CHAIRMAN: Thank you very much, Ephraim. And thank you, members of the panel, for the most interesting session -- which as we expected laid the fundamentals for the rest of the seminar. The audience is invited -- and I see that my invitation isn't needed -- to coffee and refreshments outside the hall. And we'll gather again for the next session at exactly 11:30. Thank you very much.