St. Vincent’s Ties with Iran Raises Concern in Washington

A0507219.jpgTEHRAN (FNA)- A senior US diplomat has asked St. Vincent’s recent move to establish diplomatic ties with Iran despite Washington’s opposition, the Caribbean island’s premier said.

Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves said the US ambassador for Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean asked why he forged relations with Tehran when the US still had concerns about its nuclear program.

Gonsalves told reporters late Monday at a news conference that he believes Iran is seeking to expand its international ties. “Iran wants to be engaged internationally, and it is the duty of countries to engage others.”

A spokesman for the US Embassy in Barbados had no immediate comment.

St. Vincent and Iran established ties early last month after Gonsalves visited Iran for a summit of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), an organization of 120 developing nations.

St. Vincent later announced that it would receive US$7 million in aid from Iran. A portion of that will go toward construction of a US$200 million international airport.

The United States and Iran broke diplomatic relations in April 1980, after Iranian students seized the United States’ espionage center at its embassy in the heart of Tehran. The two countries have had tense relations ever since.

The United States 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,
stressing 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.

Political observers believe that 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.

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