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Iran will remain defiant on economic sanctions

Posted by alanmirs on June 11, 2010


The Irish Times
Friday, June 11, 2010

Iran will remain defiant on economic
sanctions

Iranian foreign minister Manouchehr
Mottaki speaks to
MARY FITZGERALD , Foreign Affairs Correspondent

IRAN’S
foreign minister, Manouchehr Mottaki, yesterday shrugged off the
prospect of further EU sanctions beyond those approved by the UN
Security Council earlier this week.

European leaders are expected
to agree next week on the need for more sanctions on Iran over its
nuclear enrichment programme. Diplomats say the measures could be
finalised in July.

“Whatever action Europe decides to take, we
will take commensurate action in response,” Mottaki told The Irish Times
yesterday.

“In the past few years, when it comes to the relations
between Iran and Europe, in those instances where there has been a drop
in relations, very easily we have managed to fill the gap and find
replacements in other parts of the world.”

Speaking in Dublin
during a two-day visit, Mottaki declared the UN Security Council’s
action “illegal”; he insisted that the sanctions would have no economic
impact on Iran; and he reiterated that Tehran’s nuclear ambitions go no
further than seeking atomic power for peaceful, energy purposes.

“The
[Security Council] cannot punish a state for allegations which have not
been proven. Such actions bring into question its standing and good
name,” he said.

Mottaki, dressed in the standard white-shirted,
tieless garb of Iranian officials, noted that this week’s resolution,
passed with 12 votes in favour, received the least support of all four
Iran sanctions resolutions adopted since 2006. This, he argued, showed
that President Obama “does not have the necessary authority” to persuade
others.

“The problem is you cannot trust what Mr Obama says and
he cannot keep his promises . . . it seems that the power of some other
sources in the United States is more than that of Mr Obama,” he said.

“He
has been successful in talking but everybody was waiting for his
success in action. Unfortunately until now there is nothing there. I
heard a joke that it would be good if Mrs Clinton and Mr Obama changed
positions with each other.”

In light of this week’s sanctions
vote, Mottaki said a Turkey and Brazil brokered deal, under which Iran
agreed to send some of its low-enriched uranium abroad in exchange for
specially processed fuel, required a “serious review” but did not
divulge what this might entail.

He rejected suggestions that
incidents, including the discovery last year that Iran had been secretly
developing an enrichment plant near Qom, create the impression that
Tehran cannot be trusted on the issue of its nuclear ambitions.

“This
impression is not a correct impression,” he said.

“To clear up
any possible ambiguities in the minds of others, we clearly announced
that after the facilities in Qom we intend to build 10 other facilities,
and this is well before any construction happens on the ground.”

Iranian
officials have been highly critical of Yukiya Amano, who last year
replaced Mohamed ElBaradei as head of the International Atomic Energy
Agency (IAEA). Amano this week described Iran as a “special case”
because “of the existence of issues related to possible military
dimensions to its nuclear programme”. Asked to what extent Iran’s
relationship with the IAEA had deteriorated under its new head, Mottaki
said: “I am not going to make any judgements here. We have always
conducted ourselves within the confines of the laws and the regulations
in our interaction with any person or party, or state for that matter.”

But
he said Amano “needs to review the IAEA dossier from the very start”
and warned that the IAEA head was “not permitted to enter the spheres
which are outside his portfolio”.

Tehran has been particularly
riled by Amano’s insistence that it answer questions about its general
missile programme.

“Mr Amano cannot refer to or get himself
involved in our defensive efforts which include our missile programme to
counter the threats we are dealing with . . . every week we are
threatened with military attacks by the officials of the Zionist
regime,” Mottaki said.

Last week, Israeli prime minister Benjamin
Netanyahu defended the blockade on Gaza by declaring Israel would not
“allow the establishment of an Iranian port in Gaza” – a reference to
accusations that Tehran funds and arms Hamas. Mottaki, after condemning
Israel’s fatal raid on a Gaza-bound aid flotilla as “barbaric”, rejected
this outright. “We have announced humanitarian assistance for the
people of Gaza but we do not take part in military assistance to the
Palestinians. It is impossible,” he claimed.

This weekend will
mark the first anniversary of Iran’s disputed presidential poll. Mahmoud
Ahmadinejad’s re-election last June prompted widespread demonstrations
which were eventually snuffed out in a brutal security crackdown. Since
then, apart from intermittent street protests, talk of divided loyalties
abounds within the country’s opaque political, security, and clerical
spheres. Many argue that the Islamic Republic faces one of its greatest
internal challenges since it came into being in 1979.

“The Islamic
Republic of Iran is experiencing a new era but it is not divided,”
Mottaki insisted. “Conditions inside the country are now completely
calm. However, it is very clear that some high ranking officials of my
country have different points of view. But, where should such different
points of view manifest themselves? In a civil society, [it] should be
at the ballot box.”

Mottaki argued that last year’s high election
turnout “created its own expectations” and hinted that authorities were
taken aback by the post-election mood.

“Such developments as took
place after the elections would have required for us to be much more
prepared. Managing an emotive condition inside the society is, I have to
admit, no easy task.” Unprompted, Mottaki mentioned the death of Neda
Soltan, the student whose shooting days after the election made her a
potent opposition symbol. Her killing, he said, needed “serious further
study”. Asked who he suspects was responsible, Mottaki replied:
“Investigations are ongoing.”

He recalled the turbulent early
years that followed the 1979 revolution. “Many people said then that the
Islamic Republic was finished but [it] managed to stand on its own two
feet . . . In the past 30 years we have weathered many ups and downs,”
he said.

“There have always been different points of view inside
Iran between Iranian officials . . . We need to try to come to terms
with these differing points of view . . . and, to the best of our
ability, push things towards a manageable situation.”

And if
people take to the streets this weekend to mark the anniversary? Should
there be a less heavy-handed security response this time?

“This
depends on the observance of the regulations,” he said. “It is natural
that if violations happen, they will carry with them their own
particular repercussions.”

A diplomatic career from MP to
foreign minister
 

From Bandar Gaz in northern Iran,
Manouchehr Mottaki studied in India before serving as an MP in the first
post-revolution Majlis (parliament) in 1980. Before Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
appointed him foreign minister in 2005, Mottaki had held several key
positions in the Iranian foreign ministry, including deputy foreign
minister. He also served as Iran’s ambassador to Turkey in the 1980s and
to Japan in the late 1990s. In the 2005 presidential election, Mottaki
oversaw Ali Larijani’s campaign bid.

Larijani, Iran’s chief
nuclear negotiator between 2005 and 2007, is now speaker of the Majlis.
Mottaki’s wife is the head of human rights and women’s affairs at the
foreign ministry

http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/world/2010/0611/1224272267891.html

 

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