VIENNA, 8 Mar. (IPS) With 89 per cent of Iranians believing he can solve the nation’s mounting and urgent problems, fundamentalist President Mahmoud Ahmadi Nezhad was dealt his most humiliating diplomatic defeat when, on Wednesday 8 March, the international nuclear watchdog decided to refer Iran’s nuclear issue to the United Nations Security Council.
After months of feverish negotiations behind the doors as well as openly and a cat and mouse play by the Iranians with the Europeans and the Rusians, the Board of directors of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) wrapped up three days of talks in Vienna, deciding to report the controversial case of Iran’s nuclear activities to the Security Council for new measures.
The United States may have the power to cause harm and pain but it is also susceptible to harm and pain
Iran immediately reacted with a scathing attack on the United States, which had mounted the charges against the Islamic Republic, warning Washington with the law of talion.
"The United States may have the power to cause harm and pain but it is also susceptible to harm and pain", said Iran’s Ambassador to the IAEA Ali Asqar Soltaniyeh, adding, "So if the United States wishes to choose that path, let the ball roll".
In a sibylline statement translating Iranian clerical leader’s anger and confusion at the decision that marks an undeniable victory for the American diplomacy, he also charged the 35 members Board, saying that the reporting of the case to the Security Council is a black mark for the Agency and makes the issue a “security problem, which would leave Iran no other choice but to make decisions in that framework”.
“The Islamic Republic was ready to present sincere proposals for discussions and is keeping all doors open for hearing reasonable proposals for a peaceful and just solution of the crisis, but our offers for diplomatic ways out were thrown by the window and now no one knows when new opportunities would emerge”, Mr. Soltaniyeh stressed.
Repeating earlier warnings made by Mr. Javad Va’idi, the Head of the Iranian delegation at the IAEA meeting, he accused the United States of having torpedoed the chances of reaching an agreement. “Soon we would see Israel’s atomic arsenal coming out of their secret bases and this regime getting awards from the same America that is trying hard to oppose Iran’s peaceful nuclear programmes”.
In a an effort to calm the Iranians, Mr. Mohammad ElBarade’i, the Egyptian General Director of the IAEA said it was still possible to reach a political settlement and urged all sides to "lower the rhetoric" to achieve this. “This is simply a new phase of diplomacy, an extension of diplomatic efforts to find a solution by backing the Board", he added.
Unlike the IAEA, the Security Council has enforcement powers and can impose punitive measures, including sanctions.
But diplomats following the Iranian case said in a fist step, the Security Council would continue the Board’s efforts to urge Tehran to abandon its nuclear activities that Washington, Tel Aviv and the Europeans suspects of hiding a secret military programme for producing atomic bomb without setting a deadline or threatening action.
“In a second step, the Security Council might impose economic sanctions, knowing full well that if Iran uses its oil as a weapon, the country also needs selling its oil”, one senior nuclear expert pointed out.
"We plan a concerted approach at the UN that gradually escalates pressure on Iran. We will shine a bright spotlight on Iran's nuclear programme. We intend to participate in a vigorous international debate about Iran's nuclear ambitions", US State Department Undersecretary Nicholas Burn told the House of the Representatives International Affairs Committee.
“The Security Council would make a strong statement about Iran and that if the Iranian government does not "accede to the wishes of the international community, then of course we would have to look at possible targeted sanctions, which a number of countries are already beginning to explore", he said, emphsisisng that any sanctions "will be specifically targeted to pressure the regime and Iran's nuclear and missile programmes, rather than hurting the great majority of innocent Iranians".
Speaking to journalists before the end of the Board’s session, Mr. Va’idi did not rule out Iran using oil as a weapon to counter possible sanctions by the Security Council, saying, “Using oil as a weapon is not in our agenda for the time being, but according to the circumstances, we might review our decision”, Mr. Va’idi said, reiterating at the same time that Iran would press on with small-scale enrichment work. "We will continue to exercise our research and development activities based on our legitimate right", he said, rejecting calls to stop all nuclear programmes.
In an opinion poll ordered by the authorities, almost 70 per cent of the Iranians have said they don’t consider the nuclear activities as a “national project” and 86 per cent consider that the nuclear energy issue does not worth a war.
70 per cent of the Iranians say do not consider nuclear activities a “national project” and 86 per cent consider the nuclear issue does not worth a war.
According to the internet newspaper “Rooz” (Day), the survey, carried out by the research department of an official news agency for the authorities and kept secret, 98 pr cent of the interviewees have said they thing the Iranian nuclear issue would “finally” lead to a military confrontation with the United States and about the same percentage think that in such a case, Iran would have a situation similar to present day Iraq.
But at the same time only 28 per cent say to be afraid of an American attack.
About the President, only 11 per cent said they have confidence that he could solve Iran’s problems.
The last open public opinion survey carried five years ago by an independent Iranian firm on behalf of the American Gallup had found that the majority of the Iranians were in favour of resuming relations with Washington.
The result had so angered Ayatollah Ali Khameneh’i, the leader of the Islamic Republic that he ordered the arrest of the firm’s directors, Abbas Abdi, Hasan Qazian and Behrouz Geranmayeh, all accused of espionage, propaganda against the Islamic Republic and endangering the State’s security etc.. and condemned to long term prison. ENDS IRAN REFERED TO UN 8306