Munich: The bizarre appearance of Iran’s Foreign Minister
Published in German weekly newspaper “Die Welt” on February 6 2010
Source (German): http://www.welt.de/politik/ausland/article6276528/Der-bizarre-Auftritt-des-iranischen-Aussenministers.html#reqRSS
by Thorsten Jungholt
Iran makes the headlines at the Munich security conference. To get to know the whole lunacy of the regime in Tehran, one should attend the “nightowl-session” at the hotel “Bayerischer Hof”. A discussion, initially designed as a verbal dispute, in large parts turned into an absurd monologue of the Iranian foreign minister.
Iran is planning to build a nuclear bomb? Nonsense – it’s all about curing 850.000 patients. Execution of opposition members? No way, that’s the constitutional way of dealing with criminal offenders. Electoral fraud? Never – the Islamic Republic is more democratic than the European Union. Denial of the Holocaust? Well, Iran just has a different perspective on the world and deserves tolerance.
This is how Iran’s foreign minister Manouchehr Mottaki explained things to the participants at the Munich security conference.
Conference chairperson Wolfgang Ischinger had invited the close aide of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to Munich on short notice, after Iran’s president in a televised interview earlier this week had indicated Tehran’s willingness to give in in the nuclear struggle with the United Nations. For months, he refused to accept suggestions about a nuclear deal made by the International Atomic Energy Agency IAEA. According to this suggestion, Tehran would send low enriched uranium abroad for further enrichment instead of producing it at home. The uranium allegedly is required for a research reactor in Tehran.
Now, Ahmadinejad appeared to be disavowing his previous condition that the exchange of material against higher enriched uranium must be effected on Iranian territory. The international community fears that the Islamic Republic under the disguise of a civil nuclear program for manufacturing medical products is in fact secretly working on nuclear weapons.
But like so many times in the past, Iran’s current would-be concession again is tied to some conditions. According to Mottaki, timetable, location, and quantity of the uranium exchange must be defined by Iran. Only then an agreement with the international community will come into reach. “The political willingness exists”, Mottaki asserted, reiterating that his country with its nuclear program pursues solely peaceful purposes. Iran can either produce, or buy, or barter the required fuel abroad. Generally, his country agrees on exchanging nuclear material.
Prior to the nocturnal panel discussion, Mottaki had met with German foreign minister Guido Westerwelle and his Russian counterpart Sergej Lavrov. Westerwelle displayed scepticism after the talk: “Our patience is not infinite, and tactical maneuvers are not going to promote the issue. We need concrete actions”, said the minister. If Iran came into the possession of nuclear weapons, this would threaten international stability and initiate a new nuclear arms race. Lavrov also claimed that he intends to point out to Mottaki that the world holds a joint position, and Iran must answer all open questions to the IAEA: “I really hope that he will listen to me and respond”, said Lavrov.
His hope was only partially fulfilled. Iran seems to be determined to continue the roller coaster ride with the international community. Nevertheless, Tehran has now started to take part in the discussion, said Westerwelle: “Every talk is useful”.
Indeed, Munich offers more than enough opportunities for talks. 300 security experts from all over the world have gathered, and until Sunday, Mottaki has the chance to meet representatives of all countries with a mission in the Security Council – USA, Russia, China, Great Britain, France – that have been trying for years to receive guarantees from Tehran that the nuclear program indeed serves civil purposes only.
With the exception of China, that entertains strong economic interests in Iran, most states made it clear to Mottaki that they are ready to increase sanctions, should Tehran continue to hesitate. The only way for Iran to prevent this is to finally make an appointment with the IAEO and bindingly and in writing present its positions, said Swedish foreign minister Bildt.
As for Mottaki’s bizarre remarks during the witching hour, Bildt coolly countered that there still remains a lot to say on issues like human rights, democracy, the understanding of history, and Iran’s true motives for pursuing its nuclear program, since the international community has quite different views on all those aspects. However, the most important problem to be solved is the nuclear issue: “The clock is ticking, time is running out for Iran.”
Translator’s note: See also
Statement of United4Iran Bavaria on occasion of the proteste in Munich on February 6 2010