US to Open Interest Section in Iran

A00202943.jpgTEHRAN (FNA)- The Bush administration has sent a formal request to Iran to establish a US interests section in Tehran, White House official said.

The McClatchy Newspapers, citing senior Bush administration officials, reported on Thursday that the proposal for the delegation was sent to Tehran, and that the administration was searching for a diplomat to fill the post.

Iranian officials have repeatedly stressed that they have not yet received any such request.

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.

Israeli officials alleged that it was unlikely that Tel Aviv could sway Washington one way or the other on this issue.

The reports come at a time when the Zionist regime is preparing for the likelihood that the US would initiate higher-level contacts with Iran if Barack Obama wins the presidential election next week.

There are voices in the US administration who stress high-level diplomatic engagement with Tehran could encourage greater cooperation with the Islamic Republic.

According to this thinking, such engagement could give the Iranians a degree of American respect, which might then induce Tehran to let its uranium enrichment be performed outside the Islamic Republic.

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 evidence 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 four rounds of UN Security Council sanctions for turning down West’s illegitimate calls to give up its right of uranium enrichment.

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

The officials said that leaks now of a US intention to set up an interest section in Tehran could be meant to take one of the main thrusts out of Obama’s foreign policy platform, which is that he is willing to engage with the Iranians, while the Republicans and John McCain are not. There have been persistent rumors for months that the US might open an interest section in Iran.

According to the McClatchy Newspapers report, it is not known how the Iranians responded to the interest-section overture. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said last month that he’d consider the idea. Iran refused earlier this month to allow a US nongovernmental organization, the American-Iranian Council, (AIC), to open an office in Tehran even though the US Treasury Department granted it a license to do so.

On Saturday, however, the council posted on its Web site a “breaking news” flash reporting that “governmental discussions continue on the opening of the AIC Iran office.”

According to the organization, “plans and discussions to open the AIC office continue and are on course.”

The council stressed that the US interests section and the opening of its own office were two different things.

Washington’s push for additional UN penalties contradicts a 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 seems 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.

The UN nuclear watchdog has so far carried out at least 14 surprise inspections of Iran’s nuclear sites so far, but found nothing to support West’s allegations.

Also in his latest report to the 35-nation Board of Governors, IAEA Director General Mohamed ElBaradei confirmed “the non-diversion” of nuclear material in Iran and added that the agency had found no “components of a nuclear weapon” or “related nuclear physics studies” in the country.

The IAEA report confirmed that Iran has managed to enrich uranium-235 to a level ‘less than 5 percent.’ Such a rate is consistent with the construction of a nuclear power plant. Nuclear arms production, meanwhile, requires an enrichment level of above 90 percent.

The Vienna-based UN nuclear watchdog continues snap inspections of Iranian nuclear sites and has reported that all “declared nuclear material in Iran has been accounted for, and therefore such material is not diverted to prohibited activities.”

Mohammed ElBaradei, chief of the International Atomic Energy Agency, recently said that Iran remains far from acquiring capabilities to develop nuclear weapons as it is still lacking the key components to produce an atomic weapon.

“They do not have even the nuclear material, the raw unenriched uranium to develop one nuclear weapon if they decide to do so,” said the head of the UN nuclear watchdog agency.

Many world nations have called the UN Security Council pressure against Iran unjustified, especially in the wake of recent IAEA reports, stressing that Tehran’s case should be normalized and returned to the UN nuclear watchdog due to the Islamic Republic’s increased cooperation with the agency.

Observers believe that the shift of policy by the White House to send William Burns – the third highest-ranking diplomat in the US – to the latest round of Iran-West talks happened after Bush’s attempt to rally international pressure against Iran lost steam due to the growing international vigilance.

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