The Herald, November 22, 1979
TEHERAN. — Militant Moslem students occupying the American embassy here said last night they would kill all their hostages and blow up the building if the United States took military action against Iran.
In a statement broadcast over the official Voice of the Islamic Revolution radio station, the students specifically referred to a US naval task force in the Indian Ocean.
“According to information available,” the students said, “the biggest American naval warships in the Indian Ocean have started sailing towards the Gulf . . . and intend to attack Iranian soil.”
A student leader at the Embassy said by telephone: “We will kill every single hostage the very moment the first American soldier steps on Iranian soil,” Iana-Reuter reports.
The radio statement said: “We strongly warn the US that should we feel the American threats are becoming real, we will kill all the hostages on the spot.”
It added that all American citizens in Iran — estimated by Western diplomats at around 300 — would be captured and the Embassy blown up if the US attacked.
“Arrangements have been made to destroy instantly all the hostages and the embassy where they live.”
The statement followed a warning by President Carter that he might order military action unless the hostages held here since November 4 were released unharmed.
Within an hour of the president’s warning, his first public reference to the possibility of using force to solve the Iranian-American conflict, the Pentagon said a naval task force from the Philippines was on its way to join US warships in the Indian Ocean.
Last night’s statements from the students was the first to spell out what would happen to the hostages if the US used force.
There was little doubt that the students would carry out their threat.
“I am a student like those inside,” said a young Iranian outside the big black iron gate of the compound. I will not hesitate a second to kill these hostages. Neither am I afraid of dying if we have to fight the Americans.”
The students enjoy the backing of Iran’s revolutionary leader, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, who said that “American military economic threats . . . have a hollow ring”.
The student statement came on the evening of a day that saw the biggest anti-American demonstrations in the Iranian capital, with more than a million people packed in the area outside the Embassy, chanting: “Death to Carter, death to the Shah.”
Later, the United States issued a new, strong warning about the safety of the American hostages in Teheran as anti-American violence spread to Pakistan.
A presidential spokesman, Mr Jody Powell, said serious attention must be given to the White House statement, that for the first time raised the possibility of military action against Iran if the hostages were harmed or put on trial as alleged spies.
LESSONS FOR TODAY
- 42 years on, the critical issues between the Islamic Republic of Iran and the US remain unresolved, considering that the United States regards certain parts of the Middle East as strategic to its global interests. There continues to be counter accusations between both parties.
- The United States and members of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) have always believed that Iran was close to making a nuclear bomb. This led to the P5+1 talks in Geneva. P5 + 1 stands for the United Nations Security Council permanent members (China, France, Russia, United Kingdom, United States and Germany).
- It is a group of six global powers which, in 2006, joined together in diplomatic efforts with Iran with regard to its nuclear programme.
- A lot of progress had been made until the election of president Donald Trump, who refused to recognise the deal. “The US left the deal that is officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), in 2018 and then returned the sanctions that the deal had lifted.”