by Tahir Mahmoud (News & Analysis, Crescent International Vol. 43, No. 7, Dhu al-Qa'dah, 1435)
The Rahbar, Imam Seyyed Ali Khamenei has told Iranian diplomats not to engage in talks with the US except on specific issues unless Washington changes its insulting behavior.
“Relations with America and negotiations with this country — other than on specific matters — not only do not have any benefit, but have harm. And what wise person would pursue something without benefits?” said the Rahbar, Imam Seyyed Ali Khamenei in a wide ranging address to Iranian diplomats on August 13. A large number of other Iranian officials as well as foreign diplomats were also present on the occasion. The Rahbar clearly defined the political and strategic parameters of the Islamic Republic’s present engagement with the US.
Pointing to the mistaken view of some Iranian officials, the Rahbar said, “Some would pretend that if we sit at the negotiating table with America, many of our problems would be solved. But we knew this wasn’t so, and the cases of the last year once again proved this reality.” He made clear, however, that he was not opposed to the continuation of talks over Iran’s peaceful nuclear program but cautioned that bilateral talks between the United States and Iran in the nuclear negotiations are not only pointless but can actually cause “harm.”
While praising the efforts of Iran’s nuclear negotiating team for giving a “strong response” to comments made by US officials, the Rahbar pointed out, “It became clear in the negotiations, in contrast to the assumptions of some, [that they] did not help anything.” He went on, “We don’t forbid the continuation of the negotiations, and what [Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad] Zarif and his friends have started and which has progressed well up to today will continue. However, this was another valuable experience for everyone, for us to know that meeting and talking with the Americans absolutely has no effect on decreasing their enmity and is without benefit.”
The US wants to engage Islamic Iran in bilateral talks on a broad range of issues without conceding anything of substance on the sanctions. Officials in Washington — in the White House and the State Department — advance various excuses for not being able to lift sanctions even if Iran were to agree to all of their demands under the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and even those beyond them, such as accepting additional protocols on inspections and limiting uranium enrichment for a specified period of time. During several rounds of nuclear talks in Vienna following last November’s interim deal, the Americans have said they will “suspend” but not lift all the sanctions. This proposal has been firmly rejected by Iranian negotiators as a non-starter. White House and State Department officials say that their hands are tied; that Congress will not agree. This is not Iran’s problem; the US has to solve it if it is serious about arriving at a comprehensive agreement on Tehran’s peaceful nuclear program.
The sanctions against Iran are a declaration of war. So far, the Islamic Republic has shown great patience in dealing with the issue. Washington has even pressed various international bodies into service against Iran. For instance, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has refused to bring to closure various questions even after they were fully answered and explained by Tehran. On August 17, the IAEA chairman Yukiya Amano was in Tehran and raised the same questions that had already been addressed by Iran multiple times. Here is what Amano said at the Tehran press conference after meeting top Iranian officials including President Hassan Rohani, Foreign Minister Javad Zarif and head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Agency, Dr. Ali Akbar Salehi.
At the Tehran press conference, Amano said, “We have also followed up on issues related to the use of Exploding Bridge Wire (EBW) detonators. In this context, I would like to make some comments on one of the practical measures being addressed under the Framework for Cooperation.
“With regard to the practical measure concerning Iran’s provision of ‘information and explanations for the Agency to assess Iran’s stated need or application for the development of Exploding Bridge Wire detonators,’ at this stage, our thoughts are that,
“Iran has provided information and explanations to the Agency on Iran’s decision, in early 2000, to develop safer detonators. Iran has also provided information and explanations to the Agency on its work post-2007 related to the application of EBWs in the oil and gas industry which is not inconsistent with specialized industry practices.
“The Agency will need to consider all past outstanding issues, including EBWs, integrating all of them in a system and assessing the system as a whole.
“As a final comment, the Agency remains committed to working with Iran, to resolve all past and present issues, through cooperation and dialogue. In order to resolve all outstanding issues, past and present, it is very important that the Framework for Cooperation continues to be implemented.” (emphasis added).
Two days after Amano’s press conference, Dr. Salehi asked him not to raise the same questions again and again when they have been fully addressed in previous visits. The IAEA has never been able to say that Iran has diverted any nuclear material for military or bomb-making purposes. Yet it has continually taken the position, under US-Zionist pressure, that Tehran “must do more” to convince the so-called international community of the peaceful nature of its nuclear program. Amano provided additional proof of his bias during the Tehran press conference.
The IAEA under Amano is unable to take an independent stand free of US-Zionist coercion to make its determination on scientific rather than political basis. The former Japanese diplomat was elevated to this post through US manipulation on the clear understanding that he would do Washington’s bidding. He has not disappointed his American and Zionist bosses. Amano has on numerous occasions repeated US demands that Tehran must not only open its military installations to international inspections but also limit its missile production. These outlandish demands have been firmly rejected by the Islamic Republic, the latest instance being the response of President Hassan Rohani during Amano’s visit to Iran. He made clear that Iran’s military installations and production facilities were not open to negotiation. Further, that the Islamic Republic will continue to enrich uranium on its soil, as is its right.
The Islamic Republic’s military bases and defence production facilities or program do not fall under IAEA jurisdiction. In fact, even the additional protocol demanded of Iran is more than what any other country in a similar situation has been asked to fulfill, not to mention the deathly silence on the Zionist regime’s arsenal of more than 200 nuclear weapons. It is clear that the IAEA, like the UN Security Council, is being used by the US and other veto-wielding members to advance their imperialist agenda. These organizations have little to do with establishing peace, much less justice in the world.
It was based on this understanding of the nature of the US that the Rahbar cautioned Iranian diplomats that holding bilateral meetings with the US would lead to accusations that Iran had “doubts” about its positions. “The Westerners, with their massive propaganda, will make the Islamic Republic appear passive and conflicted,” he said. Reminding the diplomats that in the recent past, there had been no diplomatic communications between US and Iranian officials, the Rahbar said all this changed with the nuclear talks between Iran and the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany. Therefore, US and Iranian “officials at the level of the Foreign Ministry had calls, meetings and negotiations, but in this communication, not only was there no benefit [to Iran], but the tone of the Americans became harsher and more insulting, and their expectations rose.”
The Rahbar’s message to the Americans was that if they are serious about broadening their engagement with the Islamic Republic, it will only be considered if they change their attitude. “As long as the status quo, that is to say, US animosity and the hostile statements of the US administration and Congress on Iran continue, [Tehran’s] interaction with them will be unjustified.”
The Islamic Republic maintains a principled stand in its foreign policy and is not influenced by short-term considerations. True, such a principled stand demands sacrifices but the Islamic Republic has shown that it is willing to pay that price. Dignity and self-respect do not come cheap.
Unfortunately this is a lesson few other Muslim countries are willing to learn. They prefer to opt for the easy way out even if it means becoming subservient to imperialism and Zionism. The Middle Eastern regimes provide a clear example of this kind of thinking. That is why they are so hated by their own people while the Islamic Republic enjoys the support of its people. Islamic Iran conforms to Allah (swt) while the Arabian regimes conform to taghut.