PARIS, 2 July (IPS) “To help a lasting peace in the Middle East and the world, it is better to start from declaring the region and Asia free military nuclear zones”, reiterated former Iranian Foreign Affairs minister Ardeshir Zahedi.
“Iran made this proposal decades ago and I think that if all the present nuclear powers of the region agrees, Israel included, agree to use the nuclear energy for peaceful purposes, many of the difficulties, crisis and problems we face would be solved to the benefit of the people of the region”, he told Radio Farda (Tomorrow) the 24-hours Persian service of the Prague-based Radio Free Europe-Radio Liberty monitored by Iran Press Service in Paris..
Even under the former Monarchy regime when Iran was the United States’ “best and most trusted ally”, the Americans and the Europeans “would place a lot of obstacles” to Iran’s nuclear efforts
In an article he wrote last week for “The Wall Street Journal” about Iran’s nuclear ambitions, Mr. Zahedi said “no one can divide the line between civilian or military programs, therefore the question is what kind of Iran could the world live with, not whether the Islamic Republic desires nuclear weapons”.
In the interview, Mr. Zahedi, who served as the Shah’s last ambassador to the United States repeated the huge capacities of Iranian nuclear scientists formed as from 1950 in American and European universities and reiterated that it would be “very difficult for the international community to deny Iran accessing to nuclear technology”.
“Iran cannot be forced to unlearn knowledge accumulated since the 1950s. Iran was one of the first developing countries to acquaint itself with the awesome universe of nuclear science. Iran's first nuclear reactor was installed in Tehran in 1955 and the first batch of Iranians sent to Europe and the U.S. to study nuclear physics and related subjects were back home by the early 1960s. By the mid-1970s, Iran had a well-educated and motivated corps of nuclear scientists who, backed by substantial financial resources from the government, undertook research into all aspects of the new technology, including its military applications”, Mr. Zahedi wrote in the Wall Street Journal.
“One fact that the Americans, the Europeans and the world must realise is that you can not stop Iran getting what it considers as its right, particularly when other nations on its east and west are already nuclear powers. If one persists on this, meaning depriving Iran of nuclear technology, one would push all Iranians, who are proud of their country and its history and civilisation, even those who are against this regime, to support the government”, he pointed out.
Criticising Washington of a “double standard policy” in the Middle East, Mr. Zahedi revealed that even under the former Monarchy regime when Iran was the United States’ “best and most trusted ally”, the Americans and the Europeans “would place a lot of obstacles” to Iran’s nuclear efforts.
One fact that the Americans, the Europeans and the world must realise is that you can not stop Iran getting what it considers as its right
“In the one hand, they were racing against each other (to get into the lucrative Iranian nuclear projects) and on the other, the same world powers started to stop our (nuclear) plans”, Mr. Zahedi said, stopping short of revealing the nature of the pressures the “big powers” would place on Iran.
Mr. Zahedi, reckoned to have been one of the very few powerful and active foreign affairs minister, if not the most Iran ever had, entertained close and friendly relations with most world’s leaders such as former US presidents Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, Henry Kissinger, the British Royal Family or the late Jordan Monarch, slain Egyptian president Anwar Sadat and Pakistani Prime Minister Zolfaqar Ali Bhutto who was executed, to name some.
While defending Iran’s right to nuclear energy for peaceful and civilian purposes, a program started under the former regime and aimed at equipping Iran with enough nuclear-generated electricity “even after the end of oil resources”, Mr. Zahedi nevertheless is anxious about the ruling mullahs “nuclear ambition”.
“A string of statements from the ruling mullahs in Tehran shows that the Islamic Republic no longer feels committed to a moratorium on its uranium enrichment program. Nor will the new Islamic Majles (assembly), dominated by radicals, be in a mood to approve additional protocols to the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT) of which Iran was one of the first signatories three decades ago. Despite recent statements to the contrary by the "supreme leader" Ayatollah Ali Khameneh’i, the talk from Tehran is that the Islamic Republic should be accepted as the latest member of the "nuclear club", he wrote in the Wall Street Journal.
“In my opinion, if we are really serious to see peace coming to the troubled Middle East region and have peace in the world, one has to look seriously to the project Iran proposed decades ago for the region’s nations to adhere to a pact of using the atomic energy for civilian, industrial use only and extend the scheme to Asia as well”, he said, pointing indirectly to Israel, Pakistan and India. ENDS IRAN NUCLEAR ZAHEDI 2704