Aijaz Ahmad: Iran stands firm on nuclear issue, brokered peace agreement in Iraq


Story Transcript

VOICE OF ZAA NKWETA: Iran reiterated on Monday its rejection of any international package offered in return for halting its uranium enrichment activity.

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Tehran, Iran
April 7, 2008

MOHAMMAD ALI HOSSEINI, IRANIAN FOREIGN MINISTRY (SUBTITLED TRANSLATION): We reject any package, plan, idea and incentives which requires the Islamic Republic of Iran to suspend its nuclear activities or violate rights of the Iranian nation or even limit Iranians’ rights.

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The comments came as Russia’s United Nations ambassador urged Iran to drop its opposition to talks with six key nations—the US, Russia, China, Britain, France, and Germany—trying to ensure that its nuclear program was peaceful. Iran says it’ll only deal with the International Atomic Energy Agency, the UN’s nuclear watchdog. Washington also made an official request to Tehran through the Swiss embassy to hold formal talks about its neighbor, Iraq.

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HOSSEINI: We have received a formal request from American officials to hold three-way talks on Iraq and we are studying it.

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Iran and the US have held three rounds of ambassador-level talks in Baghdad since last May.

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HOSSEINI: If the Americans take fundamental steps and change their current behavior and policies toward Iran, this will provide an opportunity for us to reconsider our relations with the United States.

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Iran asserts that its enrichment of uranium is strictly for civilian purposes and is permitted under Article 4 of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. To further analyze the situation, we go to senior news analyst Aijaz Ahmad.

AIJAZ AHMAD, SENIOR NEWS ANALYST: Under the Non-Proliferation Treaty, Iran has the absolute right to enrich uranium. Iran argues, I believe quite correctly, that no one in the world has the authority to require it to give up that right. They say that once we conceive this right, we will never be able to recover it, and it’s a matter of principle for them. The three-way talk between the Maliki government in Iraq, Iran, and the US have been going on. There have been a couple of sessions. Their object of those talks is cooperation over stabilization in Iraq. Iran wants to stabilize it. It has demonstrated its ability to stabilize the situation in Iraq. Even most recently, just about a week ago, within three or four days of the fighting starting up, Iran called in the belligerents and imposed a ceasefire on them. Both the al-Maliki government and the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq have thanked Iran within the last two days. The US simply doesn’t know which way to go. One day it requests a three-way meeting; the other day it threatens to bomb Iran back to Stone Age. The US is so trapped in Iraq that it has no strategy whatsoever left that it can pursue in a coherent manner. The last two weeks have been an utter fiasco for the United States in Iraq. They have been saying for the last two months, “The surge works, the surge works, the violence is down,” and so on, and then they got the Maliki government to attack the Muqtada al-Sadr’s forces and brought in their own air force to support the al-Maliki government. This was a bit of a trial run to see whether the combination of the Iraqi government’s forces and US bombing will work against the largest militant force inside Iraq fighting against US occupation. President Bush went on record saying that this is a defining moment. Well, that defining moment turned out to be a complete defeat for the United States. That is what they’re trying to now conceal, blame Iran for the fighting, whereas Iran is being thanked by all the parties in Iraq for bringing peace. We shall see what Petraeus has to say, but basically he is going to blame Iran; he’s going to blame all kinds of external forces; he is going to pretend that the surge was working until the Iranis spoiled the game. There will be a lot of rhetoric, but I think at the end of the day, the Bush administration and Petraeus would request Congress not to allow any more troop withdrawals from Iraq, possibly ask for a bigger budget. I don’t see how they can make a case for a military action against Iran the week after Iran has brought peace in Doha. There is no support for that kind of attack on Iran—no support in Europe, no support in the Arab world, no support from Russia, China, or anybody who matters except Israel. The Cheney gang is capable of doing it, but for the Americans themselves, I think an attack of that kind would be completely suicidal.

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Please note that TRNN transcripts are typed from a recording of the program; The Real News Network cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.


Aijaz Ahmad

Based in New Delhi, Aijaz Ahmad has appeared many times on The Real News Network; he is Senior Editorial Consultant, and political commentator for the Indian newsmagazine, Frontline. He has taught Political Science, and has written widely on South Asia and the Middle East.