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Iran's Foreign Policy

Manuchehr Mottaki at the World Economic Forum.

Manuchehr Mottaki at the World Economic Forum.

Remarks by H. E. Manuchehr Mottaki, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Islamic Republic of Iran

Asia Society, New York
September 28, 2007

In the Name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful.

At the outset, I would like to thank Dr. Desai, President of Asia Society and her colleagues for holding this event. It is my pleasure to be among the distinguished members and guests of Asia Society. Your Society within 50 years of its life has done a pioneer job in expanding knowledge of Americans about the rich civilizations, cultures and art of the Asian ancient continent. This is an important task and further strengthens understanding of nations toward each other. Today, world needs more than ever that cultural and ideational concepts take the lead in building new paradigms of international relations.

I have the opportunity to discuss and share with you some perspectives regarding Iranian foreign policy, as well as a critical review of current international relations paradigm.

A diagnostic review of issues and problems in the current international system indicates that many of the shortcomings of the world order stem from an enduring Cold War mentality. The Cold War mentality was based on the geopolitics, military strategy and zero-sum game, promoting and imposing a set of rules over and to the cost of others. Exerting power without responsibility and justice was the main by-product of such a paradigm.

In the post-Cold War era, while the world was expecting a newly developed global order susceptible to the promotion of peace and stability, the 9/11 attacks of 2001 gave momentum to a paradigm based in name on a 'global war on terror' but in practice a mechanism of "coalition toward war". This was applied as a pretext for preemptive war and regime change strategy against opponents. This approach further augmented the so-called paradigm of exerting power without responsibility. The order and strategies arising from this paradigm have neither been sustainable nor brought peace, stability and security to its bearer and the international community at large. Instead, it has resulted in more negative consequences and intensified insecurity, instability, international terrorism, deadly conflicts and appalling miseries in a number of regions, as well as proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, transnational organized crime and other problems, too numerous to mention. Thus, it has led the world toward anarchy and has tended to institutionalize a new type of international dictatorship based on discrimination.

I addition to the politico-military dimensions of such an order, its irresponsible, selfish, and unjust coercive norms in economic spheres and the global economy have also widened the gap between the haves and have-nots, and added to dislocation of people, cultural alienation and political instability.

Keeping these points in mind, I turn to a few objective manifestations of the paradigm of injustice affecting Iran, especially by the United States during the last decades in bilateral, regional and international aspects.

The people of Iran, a nation that has not invaded any country in the past 250 years, after decades of struggle against dictatorship and foreign domination, were finally in a position to secure their freedom and independence by establishing a political system of their own in 1979. Instead of friendly interactions with Iran based on the new realities and on mutual respect, the US has ever since attempted to bring back the unjust former pattern of domination and submission. In pursuance of this end, U.S. undertook an unjust approach of antagonizing Iran, using all available tools including threats, sanctions, accusations and the manipulation of human rights mechanisms against Iran. It also led the massive diplomatic, financial and military support for Saddam Hussein in his aggression and imposed war against Iran in the 1980s.

The nuclear issue and crisis created over Iran's peaceful and legal nuclear program is yet another offshoot of this unjust paradigm and also a matter of accusation, double standards, and moral and legal inconsistency, all hidden behind the alleged threat of proliferation. But in fact, all are blatant attempts to deprive the Iranian nation of its inalienable rights under international law and conventions. Iran's peaceful nuclear program originates from late 1960s and 1970s. Due to Iran's growing energy demand that will exceed its supply and could bring its oil export capacity to a decline or even to zero in the near future, Iran has an urgent need to produce 20,000 megawatts of nuclear electricity by 2020. The same findings had been acknowledged by the US government in studies in 1973. It was expected that Iran would be capable of generating 20.000 megawatts nuclear capacity by 1994. Despite the encouragement of Iranian nuclear program at that time, by the U.S. as well as other Western countries (Britain, Germany and France), they all ultimately reneged on their contractual commitments. Today some of these Western governments are even questioning Iran's rights and needs for nuclear energy: a matter that was obvious to them over thirty years ago.

Iran simply and decidedly does not need the nuclear weapon to protect its regional interests, and such weapons have no place in Iran's security strategies. It is looking to win the confidence of its neighbors and has remained within the confines of the NPT. There has been no diversion of its peaceful nuclear program as verified in the latest IAEA report. Iran has even proposed regional and multinational participation schemes in its enrichment facilities with the greatest degree of transparency, sadly to a resounding silence from the Western powers.