Iranian officials are not showing any of the consternation that might be appropriate, considering the fact that UN Security Council sanctions might be tightened and increased on Iran in the coming week or so, because of Iran’s nuclear (but not weapons, Iranian officials insist) program.
You could hardly tell, from most press coverage, that Iranian officials are so relaxed.
Iran’s Foreign Minister tells the Conference on Disarmament that Israel and U.S. are the biggest threat to regional peace and stability, the news services report. Israel and U.S. diplomats walk out, in perfect imitation of the past behavior of diplomats representing totalitarian regimes during the Cold War.
Israel’s UN Ambassdor in Geneva, Yitzhak Levanon, even told journalists that people noticed his walk-out, because he made “a little noise” to show his displeasure and disagreement with the Iranian Foreign Minister’s remarks.
According to an Associated Press report, the U.S. mission later confirmed the walk-out”, saying that it was done because they found Mr. Mottaki’s remarks “outrageous and divisive”. Really!
Some people who were in the room at the Conference on Disarmament meeting say that they did not see any “walk-out”, and some are beginning to suspect that it might just be a disinformation campaign, kicking up a bit of dust.
But it would not be normal for the U.S. would like about something like a “walk-out”.
Two comments made by the Iranian Foreign Minister in a long press conference with journalists at the UN’s Palais des Nations in Geneva were striking:
1.) the Foreign Minister said he saw no reason to expect a war over the issue of Iran’s nuclear program, and
2.) his statement that for the last month, all parties has been pushing for a purely diplomatic solution.
One reason that might explain Iran’s defensive intransigence about its nuclear program — particularly about IAEA insistence that it must be enabled to reconstruct the entire history of Iran’s efforts in the nuclear field — is that it was the present Iranian government’s arch-enemies, the Iranian resistance group known as the Mujaheddin-e Khalq, which leaked details about the program to Western countries (i.e., primarily to the U.S. and the U.K.), and to the IAEA, which has eventually led to the imposition of prelimininary sanctions by the UN Security Council on 23 December.
That is just too galling for the present Iranian government!
Now, the Iranian Foreign Minister has made a proposal that serious negotiations could start, if there were direct talks in an “official round of discussions”. And, his starting offer says that Iran’s nuclear file should be removed from the UN Security Council, and returned to the IAEA (where the ruling Board of Governors is composed of the same states as the UN Security Council, plus some others who have also hardened their position against Iran over the past year). How could this be? Do Iranian officials have their heads in the clouds? Are they simply using the same failed tactic used by Saddam Hussein before the U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq in 2003? Are the Iranians — as many Arab governments seem to believe — just stalling for time, while they busily work, full speed ahead, on their nuclear programs?
Nah, I don’t really think so — this would seem to be too simple a hypothesis. The Iranian government is not misinformed (as Saddam apparently was, because some top Iraqi officials were afraid to give him bad news). The Iranian Government is generally not so stupid, whatever else one might say.
One reason for the Iranian Foreign Minister’s apparent calm and relaxed — even apparently optimistic — behavior, could be this report that was published in the Washington Post today about the Mujaheddin-e Khalq (who were responsible, four years ago — just after the U.S. occupation of Iraq, in fact — for telling the U.S. and the IAEA about Iran’s secret nuclear program, three or four years ago. Has Iran been given assurances, in last Saturday’s “neighbors” meeting in Baghdad, that there will be a clamp-down on this group?
“Iraq Intensifies Efforts to Expel Iranian Group“:
“Though Labeled Terrorist, MEK Has Updated U.S. on Tehran’s Nuclear Program” —
“BAGHDAD — For three years, thousands of members of a militant group dedicated to overthrowing Iran’s theocracy have lived in a sprawling compound north of Baghdad under the protection of the U.S. military. American soldiers chauffeur top leaders of the group, known as the Mujaheddin-e Khalq, or MEK, to and from their compound, where they have hosted dozens of visitors in an energetic campaign to persuade the State Department to stop designating the group as a terrorist organization. Now the Iraqi government is intensifying its efforts to evict the 3,800 or so members of the group who live in Iraq, although U.S. officials say they are in no hurry to change their policy toward the MEK, which has been a prime source of information about Iran’s nuclear program. The Iraqi government announced this week that roughly 100 members would face prosecution for human rights violations, a move MEK officials contend comes at the request of the Iranian government. ‘We have documents, witnesses’,”Jaafar al-Moussawi, a top Iraqi prosecutor, said Monday, alleging that the MEK aided President Saddam Hussein’s campaign to crush Shiite and Kurdish opposition movements at the end of the 1991 Persian Gulf War. Moussawi said the criminal complaint would implicate MEK members in ‘killing, torture, [wrongful] imprisonment and displacement’. The group denied involvement in [Saddam] Hussein’s reprisals…’This organization has always destabilized the security situation” in Iraq, said Mariam Rayis, a top foreign affairs adviser to Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, adding that the MEK’s continued presence ‘could lead to deteriorating the relationship with neighboring countries’. MEK leaders dispute the prosecutor’s allegations. They contend that Iran has infiltrated Iraq’s political leadership while also supporting militant groups in an effort to keep the United States in a quagmire in Iraq. They also say the Iranian government wants to forestall a U.S. attack on Iran. ‘The Iranian regime wants very much to prevent the winds of change’ Behzad Saffari, a spokesman for the group, said in a recent interview at a Baghdad hotel. ‘Instead of fighting the Americans in Iran, [the Iranian government] is fighting them in Iraq. If we have to leave Iraq, it means the Americans are defeated. It means Iran has prevailed’. Maliki told officials from neighboring countries during a meeting in Baghdad on Saturday that Iraq should not become a battleground where other nations attempt to settle their disputes…” http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/03/13/AR2007031301782.html?nav=hcmodule
Reaching Critical Will is an NGO that puts out an email newsletter about the Conference on Disarmament. They generally have someone in the room to witness all the meetings, and they sent a summary of yesterday’s meeting, with this on Iran’s statement (and apparently confirming the walk-out):
“Iran, which is facing a second round of sanctions from the Security Council as a result of concerns over its nuclear program, discussed its position in the CD. It also said that ‘the misuse of the non-proliferation principle as a political tool could in no way lead to the elimination of nuclear weapons’, and called the US war against Iraq ‘clear evidence of the failure of such a policy’. When Iran called on the international community to address Israel’s nuclear weapons as the real threat to international peace and security, Israel and the US walked out of the CD. Iran said the issue could be resolved through negotiations ‘without preconditions’ [meaning without them suspending uranium enrichment]. It then said that if the Permanent Five members of the Security Council and Germany ‘refer back Iran’s nuclear issue from the Security Council to the IAEA’, Iran would “be prepared to offer the necessary guarantees in order to create confidence regarding the non-diversion of its nuclear programme’.”