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Home >> World
UPDATED: 15:37, September 10, 2005
Iran's shift to east in nuclear diplomacy draws controversy at home
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Pressed by Europe to re-suspend its sensitive nuclear activities, Iran has adopted a new east-oriented diplomacy, but the tactic has touched off debates within the country.

The pro camp began a busy diplomatic manoeuvre to hammer home its idea that by relying more on other, mainly eastern, partners, Iran's nuclear issue can be solved to Iran's advantage.

Iran's chief nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani visited India and Pakistan in the past two weeks, during which Tehran secured a long- awaited deal with the two sides to export Iran's liquid natural gas to India through Pakistan.

In return, Indian Foreign Minister Natwar Singh paid a visit to Tehran earlier this month, pledging India's support for Tehran to resist a US-backed referral of Iran's nuclear case to the UN Security Council.

India's move has drawn US concerns. The United States and the European Union has repeatedly warned to refer Iran's nuclear case to the Security Council for possible sanctions, if the Islamic republic doesn't downright suspend its nuclear activities.

Pakistan was also quick to join the chorus of throwing its backing behind Tehran. Pakistan's Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz expressed support on Wednesday for a peaceful resolution of Iran's nuclear issue and Iran's right to the peaceful use of nuclear energy in accordance with related international conventions.

Russia, which has long been sympathetic to Iran on its nuclear issue and is aiding the Islamic republic with its first nuclear power plant, has already voiced strong opposition to the referral.

The three countries are all members of the 35-member board of governors of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the UN nuclear watchdog which has the final say on the US proposal of referral.

It seems that Tehran is marching ahead smoothly on what it's Foreign Minister Manuchehr Mottaki has advocated as "balanced diplomacy".

The new orientation of nuclear diplomacy has also gained loud applause among the conservative media and analysts, who said it will benefit Iran more to be less dependent on the European Union (EU), represented by the big three of Britain, France and Germany.

They said by acting as the nuclear brokers, Europe's aim is not to help Iran secure its legal rights and remove international suspicion but is to keep the status quo of Iran's nuclear standoff so as to keep what it has obtained from Iran and cater to Washington at the same time.

The official media such as IRNA has been enthusiastically reporting comments by the eastern countries, highlighting such a shift will benefit Tehran.

However, dissenting voices also emerged doubting the government's shift in diplomacy. Analysts expressed fear that the eastern countries like India and Pakistan are not powerful or determined enough to defy the United States and the EU on Iran's nuclear case.

Iran News, a pro-reformist daily, said on Thursday in an editorial that "the countries in the East may be up and coming world powers but the political reality is that Britain, France, Germany and the United States still dominate and exert enormous influence on global politics and international relations."

There are also some with a neutral view. They support the government's shift in diplomatic orientation but warn at the same time that EU's role in the nuclear issue should be reduced to a certain extent but can never be ignored. Namely, they believe the government should not go from one extreme to another.

Source: Xinhua


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