Unrepentant Iran derides sanctions

Teheran says it will review relations with the IAEA due to resolution.

By AP
June 11, 2010 02:29
Iran's Ambassador to the International Atomic Ener

Soltanieh 311. (photo credit: AP)

Iran remained defiant and Russia said that a proposed arms sale to Teheran was still alive on Thursday, a day after the UN Security Council passed its fourth round of sanctions against Iran.

Jerusalem, meanwhile, was watching the events carefully, not surprised – as one official said – that the Russians had said the sanctions don’t apply to a proposed sale of the advanced S-300 anti-missile system.

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Moscow on Thursday initially sent out contradictory messages regarding whether the sanctions – which bar the sale of heavy weapons such as missiles and missile systems to Iran – would prevent Moscow from supplying the anti-missile batteries, which would make an attack on Iran’s nuclear installations from the air that much more difficult.

The Interfax news agency, according to AFP, quoted a source in the Russian body that supervises Russian arms sales as saying, “Naturally, the contract for the delivery to Teheran of the S-300 air defense missile systems will be frozen.” The source added that “it is compulsory to fulfill a decision by the UN Security Council and Russia is not an exception here.”

Later in the day, however, Israel Radio reported that Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that the UN resolution does not apply to air-defense systems, with the exception of mobile missiles, a statement backed up by Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Andrei Nesterenko.

Russia sold the missile systems to Iran in 2007, but has not yet delivered the weapons, even though the Iranian officials are reportedly already being trained on the systems at a base near Moscow.

Moscow has come under a great deal of pressure from the US and Israel to hold up delivery of the missile systems, and the issue has long been a bone of contention with the Iranians.

Interfax also reported that Konstantin Kosachev, head of the foreign affairs committee in Russia’s lower house of parliament, said Thursday that while weapons sales restrictions had been expanded under the sanctions they did not include the S-300s. “Systems of a defensive nature like the S-300 are not on this list,” he said.

Israeli officials said that it was clear that the Russians would not see the sanctions as prohibiting the sale of the missile systems, and that Moscow was keeping all its options on the matter open.

Lavrov also said Russia was in discussions with Iran on building additional nuclear energy plants, according to Israel Radio.


Iran to review cooperation with IAEA

Iran, meanwhile, said Thursday it would review relations with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) as a result of the sanctions resolution.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad dismissed the sanctions as “annoying flies” that were as useless as “used tissues.” Other officials said Iran would not halt its uranium enrichment.

Alaeddin Boroujerdi, the head of the Iranian parliament’s powerful National Security and Foreign Policy Committee, described the sanctions as “political, illegal and illogical” and said lawmakers would quickly “begin a revision of Iran’s relations” with the IAEA. He did not say what options were to be discussed but a revision could result in restricting IAEA inspectors’ access to Iran’s nuclear facilities.

Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman, Ramin Mehmanparast, said imposing new sanctions “is not constructive, and will destroy the grounds for solving the current crisis” with the West.

Iranian officials said the new sanctions will do little more than harden the country’s resolve to move ahead with the nuclear program. Iran says the program is aimed at peaceful uses while the US and other Western nations strongly suspect it is aimed at developing weapons.

Some Iranian officials took a more cautious line on ties with the IAEA.

Ali Akbar Salehi, the head of Iran’s atomic energy organization, was quoted by the semiofficial ILNA news agency as saying that the plans for the reduction of relations with the IAEA “should be examined in detail” and that Iran would announce its stance “after review and analysis.”

Salehi accused the West of trying to goad Iran, but said Iran was “patient and we will not react hastily.” He said the resolution marked a last resort by the West, which would have to accept Iran’s right to pursue a nuclear program.

State television focused its coverage of the Security Council vote on Brazil and Turkey – the two non-permanent Council members which voted against sanctions. Iranian TV described those votes as a “defeat” for the US in its bid to form a consensus in the UN’s most powerful body.

The 70 million Iranians have lived under some sort of sanctions or restrictions for most of the last three decades. And on the streets of Teheran Thursday, people took the latest punishment in stride.

Mahsa Rezaei, a 27-year-old computer science student at Tehran’s Shahid Beheshti University, said he doubted the latest round of sanctions would be any more effective than the previous three.

“This is something between the Western countries and the government, not ordinary people,” Rezaei said.

Billed as the toughest yet against the government, the sanctions include a freeze on the assets of 40 additional companies and organizations – 15 linked to Iran’s powerful Revolutionary Guard, 22 involved in nuclear or ballistic missile activities, and three linked to the Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines. They also add the head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran’s Esfahan Nuclear Technology Center to a list of 40 people now subject to both an asset freeze and travel ban.

Under the resolution, Iran is now banned from pursuing any activity related to ballistic missiles capable of delivering nuclear weapons, investing in nuclear-related activities such as uranium mining, and buying eight categories of heavy weapons, including attack helicopters and missiles.

Iranian FM pelted with eggs in Ireland

Meanwhile, in Ireland, Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki narrowly avoided being hit by eggs pelted toward him during a Dublin appearance overshadowed by angry clashes with several Iranian dissidents.

Mottaki’s security guards roughed up two protesters who interrupted his appearance Wednesday at Dublin’s Institute of International and European Affairs. Both men – who shouted that Mottaki represented terrorism and dictatorship – were kicked and pushed downstairs but not seriously injured.

Outside, several protesters hurled eggs and kicked at Mottaki’s car as he departed. Guards shielded Mottaki with an umbrella. Irish police arrested three protesters.

Mottaki’s visit to Ireland raised the ire of Israeli officials, who said the Iranians were trying to show that there was no international solidarity against their nuclear program. The Irish deflected the charges, saying that Mottaki was on a private visit to Ireland – he was invited by an NGO – and that he then asked for a meeting with the foreign minister, which was granted.

Meanwhile, Israel came under fire at a meeting of the IAEA in Vienna on Thursday, with Sudanese ambassador Mahmoud El-Amin, speaking for the Arab states, saying Israel was a “nuclear danger.” And Iranian ambassador Ali Asghar Soltanieh charged that Israel’s nuclear capability was “a serious threat to the health, security and prosperity of the world, because the Israeli regime refuses to be bound by any international commitments or moral values.”

The US envoy to the IAEA, Glyn Davies, called Israel’s inclusion on the agenda of the meeting “untimely and uncalled for.” He said the IAEA should be dealing with Iran, which – as a signatory to the Non-Proliferation Treaty – is in violation of its responsibilities to the IAEA.


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