UN sanctions vote confrontational, says Iran minister

THE UN Security Council’s vote in favour of further Iran sanctions indicates a “confrontational approach” and Tehran will now…

THE UN Security Council’s vote in favour of further Iran sanctions indicates a “confrontational approach” and Tehran will now consider its response in consultation with partners including Turkey, Iranian foreign minister Manouchehr Mottaki said during a visit to Dublin yesterday.

Speaking at the Institute for International and European Affairs (IIEA) yesterday evening, Mr Mottaki said: “Unfortunately [the Security Council] has moved to a confrontational approach . . . which is not reasonable.”

Discussing Iran’s nuclear ambitions, Mr Mottaki said: “Our principles in this regard are very clear – we are against nuclear weapons and we support strongly the Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT).”

He argued Iran had sought to have article six of the NPT, concerning disarmament, strengthened. He referred to a disarmament conference in Tehran in April, at which Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei had declared nuclear weapons haram (forbidden in Islam). “But we insist on our nuclear energy,” Mr Mottaki added.

Up to 30 people, some of whom carried flags of the Mujaheddin-e Khalq, an armed opposition group designated a terrorist body by Tehran, held a protest outside the IIEA. They chanted slogans including “Death to the dictator” and “Death to Khamenei”. Two male protesters who managed to enter the event, attended mostly by diplomats and academics, interrupted Mr Mottaki’s address with such slogans, including some about execution of Kurds in Iran.

The two were manhandled by Mr Mottaki’s own Iranian security guards before gardaí intervened and escorted them out.

Mr Mottaki took questions on a range of issues, including Iran’s human rights record. On the latter, he said that “allegations on human rights should not be politicised . . . there should not be double standards.” On the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, he said: “The main question in the Middle East is why the Palestinians should pay for this crime [the Holocaust].” He said Iran’s proposal to resolve the conflict was to hold a referendum so those in the region “could decide for themselves”.

Mr Mottaki had earlier met Tánaiste Mary Coughlan, whose spokesman said the meeting covered “areas of bilateral interest between Ireland and Iran, including trade issues, and had a particular focus on the development of stronger education links between Ireland and Iran”.

Mr Mottaki also met Minister for Foreign Affairs Micheál Martin. In a statement, the Department of Foreign Affairs said issues discussed included “human rights, Iran’s nuclear programme and the Middle East peace process”.

Colm O’Gorman, director of Amnesty International Ireland, said it was “crucial that Minister Martin uses every opportunity to raise Iran’s appalling human rights record directly with the Iranian government, and urges them to allow the UN to investigate the serious human rights abuses that are taking place”. He noted that in February, Irish representatives at the UN Human Rights Council criticised Iran’s crackdown on peaceful protests, torture of prisoners and high rate of executions.

Protesters outside threw eggs at Mr Mottaki as he left the IIEA.