US Irked by Iran’s Joining SCO

A0224360.jpgTEHRAN (FNA)- The Untied States said it would use all means to prevent Iran’s influence in the region including its membership in Shanghai Cooperation Organization.

Washington would work with countries in the region to stop any attempt by Iran to “influence governments or political parties,” US assistant Secretary of State Richard Boucher said on Tuesday, press tv reported.

On the prospect of Iran, which is an observer in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) at present, becoming a member, Boucher said there were recent reports that Iran had already asked for membership.

He expressed concern over Iran’s potential membership with the six-nation SCO which comprises Russia, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and China.

On the possibility of the organization welcoming Iran with open arms with the aim of strengthening regional cooperation, Boucher said “It depends on what form that cooperation takes.”

He said, however, that Washington would not remain silent if there were signs the grouping was evolving in the direction of forming a military cooperation.

The US is mainly at loggerheads with Iran over Tehran’s independent and home-grown nuclear technology. Washington has laid much pressure on Iran to make it give up the most sensitive and advanced part of the technology, which is uranium enrichment, a process used for producing nuclear fuel for power plants.

Washington’s push for additional UN penalties contradicted the recent report by 16 US intelligence bodies that endorsed the civilian nature of Iran’s programs. Following the US National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) and similar reports by the IAEA head – one in November and the other one in February – which praised Iran’s truthfulness about key aspects of its past nuclear activities and announced settlement of outstanding issues with Tehran, any effort to impose further sanctions on Iran seemed to be completely irrational.

The February report by the UN nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency, praised Iran’s cooperation in clearing up all of the past questions over its nuclear program, vindicating Iran’s nuclear program and leaving no justification for any new UN sanctions.

Tehran says it never worked on atomic weapons and wants to enrich uranium merely for civilian purposes, including generation of electricity, a claim substantiated by the NIE and IAEA reports.

Iran has insisted it would continue enriching uranium because it needs to provide fuel to a 300-megawatt light-water reactor it is building in the southwestern town of Darkhoveyn as well as its first nuclear power plant in the southern port city of Bushehr.

Not only many Iranian officials, including President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, but also many other world nations have called the UN Security Council pressure unjustified, especially in the wake of recent IAEA reports saying Iran had increased cooperation with the agency.

US President George W. Bush, who finished a tour of the Middle East in winter has called on his Arab allies to unite against Iran.

But hosting officials of the regional nations dismissed Bush’s allegations, describing Tehran as a good friend of their countries.

Bush’s attempt to rally international pressure against Iran has lost steam due to the growing international vigilance, specially following the latest IAEA and US intelligence reports.

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