Iran Strengthens Diplomatic Stance in N. Standoff with West

A0485273.jpgTEHRAN (FNA)- Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s just-ended visit to Turkey, a NATO ally that is also aspiring to the membership in the European Union (EU), yielded fruits in countering US efforts to set a diplomatic blockade over Tehran, analysts said.

The two-day working visit, which ended on Friday, came amid escalating tensions between Tehran and the West due to Iran’s civilian nuclear program.

Washington and its Western allies accuse Iran of trying to develop nuclear weapons under the cover of a civilian nuclear program, while they have never presented any corroborative document to substantiate their allegations. Iran denies the charges and insists that its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes only.

Tehran stresses that the country has always pursued a civilian path to provide power to the growing number of Iranian population, whose fossil fuel would eventually run dry.

Despite the rules enshrined in the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) entitling every member state, including Iran, to the right of uranium enrichment, Tehran is now under three rounds of UN Security Council sanctions for turning down West’s illegitimate calls to give up its right of uranium enrichment.

Tehran has dismisses West’s demands as politically tainted and illogical, stressing that sanctions and pressures merely consolidate Iranians’ national resolve to continue the path.

Iran has also insisted that 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.

The Islamic Republic says that it considers its nuclear case closed as it has come clean of IAEA’s questions and suspicions about its past nuclear activities.

Yet, the United States has remained at loggerheads with Iran over the independent and home-grown nature of Tehran’s nuclear technology, which gives the Islamic Republic the potential to turn into a world power and a role model for other third-world countries. 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.

Earlier this month, the US State Department said six major powers had agreed to consider new sanctions against Iran after Tehran failed to give a clear answer to their package of incentives, aimed at requiring the country to give up its NPT right of nuclear enrichment in exchange for political and economic benefits.

Iran has asked the world powers to remove the ambiguities existing in the package before it provides a clear response to the West’s offer.

The US Treasury announced Tuesday that sanctions would be imposed on five Iranian entities for their alleged links to Iran’s nuclear and missile programs. Iran dismissed the US accusations as “unfounded and ridiculous”.

As a result, US citizens are prohibited from doing business with these blacklisted entities and any of their possible assets in the United States will be frozen, the Treasury said in a statement.

During the visit to Turkey by the Iranian president, Ahmadinejad and Gul witnessed the public signing of a series of cooperation deals.

The two countries also issued a joint statement stressing their determination for further cooperation in the energy field.

Iran and Turkey would cooperate in fighting terrorism and drug trafficking, Ahmadinejad told a joint press conference with Gul following their talks.

He said that as two large and strong countries in the region, Iran and Turkey have great influence on regional and international affairs.

The Iranian president added that his country and Turkey would celebrate 2009 as a joint culture year, which would help enhance better understanding of each other’s culture and civilization.

For his part, Gul said the maintenance of peace, stability and prosperity in South Caucasus was a priority among Turkish foreign policy targets.

Last July, Iran and Turkey signed a memorandum of understanding, allowing the Turkish Petroleum Corporation to pump 20 billion cubic meters of natural gas from the giant South Pars gas field.

The agreement would also allow the transport of Iranian natural gas to Europe as well as the transfer of Turkmen natural gas to Europe via Iran and Turkey.

Turkey has recently improved ties with Iran and argues that its close dialog both with the West and Tehran could be an asset for a peaceful resolution of the international standoff over Iran’s nuclear program.

“Iran’s diplomatic efforts have achieved some results, which partly dispelled pressures from the United States,” said Zhao, the CIIS research fellow.

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