Iran General NewsIranian: Normal ties to U.S. impossible

Iranian: Normal ties to U.S. impossible

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AP: Iran’s foreign minister on Friday urged the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council to “correct their past mistakes” and draw up a a resolution ending council involvement in his country’s nuclear affairs. The Associated Press

By GEORGE JAHN

DAVOS, Switzerland (AP) — Iran’s foreign minister on Friday urged the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council to “correct their past mistakes” and draw up a a resolution ending council involvement in his country’s nuclear affairs.

Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki also said that — while it makes sense to talk with Washington over common interests such as Iraq — he could not imagine substantially improved ties with the United States even after a change in U.S. administrations.

Mottaki spoke to The Associated Press on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum, the Davos gathering of world political and economic leaders, whose focus on areas of international concern include the Mideast.

Earlier in the week, Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni urged Davos attendees to take a personal stand against Iran’s leadership by ending business ties with the country.

“Iran exports terrorism, destabilizes the region, denies the Holocaust and threatens to wipe Israel, my home, off the map,” said Livni, referring to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s frequent calls for the elimination of Jewish state.

Mottaki’s call for an end to a Security Council role in trying to pressure Iran comes amid indications that the council is moving precisely in the other direction and is ready to pass a third round of sanctions for Tehran’s refusal to mothball uranium enrichment and meet related demands.

Elements of a new U.N. resolution obtained Friday by the AP outlined new sanction proposals against Iran, including bans on travel, and stepped up monitoring of Tehran’s financial institutions.

Asked what his message to the council was, Mottaki said, “it was time now to correct their previous mistakes” — involving itself in Tehran’s nuclear program and passing the two sanctions resolutions.

At the minimum, said Mottaki, the council should wait until the International Atomic Energy Agency completes its probe of Iran’s past nuclear activities, at the latest in early March.

If that report shows no attempt by Iran to make nuclear weapons — as claimed by the U.S. — council members “should … pass a new resolution” formally washing their hands of Iran’s nuclear activities, he said.

The investigation of the Islamic Republic’s former nuclear program that started last year is in its final stage, with diplomats telling the AP that Tehran has started providing some information about activities that the Americans say appear to make sense only in the context of an attempt to develop nuclear weapons.

A U.S. intelligence estimate published last month said that Iran stopped efforts to make such arms four years ago. But American officials have demanded that Tehran “confess” to such past attempts to make their cooperation with the IAEA probe credible. And Washington and its allies say that — if Iran continues to develop its enrichment program, a possible pathway to nuclear arms — even such an admission will not be enough to prevent further U.N. sanctions.

But Mottaki said such a confession would not be forthcoming, asserting there was neither “political will” nor “any practical step for nuclear weapons in my country” even before 2003.

And he said he saw no room for improved relations between Tehran and Washington, even past the approaching change of U.S. administrations. Formal bilateral ties were cut in the wake of the 1979 Iranian hostage taking of U.S. Embassy personnel.

“Usually we do not look to the individuals in the United States or even to the (political) parties — we look to policies,” he said.

“Being a realist … I have to say that I do not see room for the time being for the (establishment) of relations between the Iran and the United States,” he added, while acknowledging the sense of bilateral talks on the situation in Iraq.

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