(by Patrick Goodenough, Nov. 3, 2005, CNSNews.com) – Iran’s relations with the West continue to sour, with belligerence from Tehran and stepped up criticism from foreign governments over its nuclear stance and anti-Israel rhetoric.
Iran on Wednesday began marking the 26th anniversary of the seizure of the U.S. Embassy, with special “Death to America” programs in schools.
The National Day of Campaign against Global Arrogance (“global arrogance” is an epithet used for the U.S.) produced demonstrations in the streets of the capital and at the former U.S. embassy building. Protesters chanted slogans against the U.S. and Israel and the burning of their national flags.
Student radicals loyal to Ayatollah Khomeini held more than 50 American diplomats and others hostage from Nov. 1979 to Jan. 1981.
Invoking the embassy seizure, a government-organized student body warned Tuesday that Britain could face a similar situation unless it stops its “evil mischief” against Iran.
Ties between Tehran and London are strained over Britain’s accusations of an Iranian link to roadside bombings which have killed British forces in Iraq; and Iran’s allegations that Britain is behind bomb blasts in western Iran.
Prime Minister Tony Blair’s reaction to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s recent call for Israel to be “wiped off the map” was also stronger than most. Blair said people would soon start demanding action against Tehran if it continued to “carry on like this.”
“You imagine a state like that, with an attitude like that, having a nuclear weapon.”
Blair’s comments led to questions Wednesday in parliament, where he asked whether he was implicitly threatening military action against Iran.
“Nobody is talking about” invading Iran, he assured lawmakers, but added that “the international community simply will not put up with their continued breach of the proper and normal standards of behavior.”
Iran’s spats with the West come amid unsuccessful efforts by Britain, France and Germany to persuade Tehran to stop nuclear activities, which the U.S. and Europe fear could lead to a nuclear weapons capability.
The U.N.’s nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), will meet on Nov. 24 to decide whether Iran should be referred to the Security Council, an outcome favored by the U.S. and European Union.
France on Wednesday repeated a warning that the issue would go to the Security Council if Iran did not suspend its nuclear-related activities.
Italian Foreign Minister Gianfranco Fini angered Iran Tuesday when, during a visit to Jerusalem, he backed an Israeli call for Tehran to be referred to the Security Council.
Fini said that a nuclear-armed Iran would pose a “serious danger not just to Israel but to the entire international community.”
Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Hamid-Reza Asefi accused Fini of being under the sway of Israeli propaganda.
Iran denies it plans to manufacture nuclear weapons, saying its civilian program will only be used to generate electricity.
With nuclear negotiations stalled, unnamed diplomats were quoted this week as saying Iran planned soon to resume uranium enrichment, an activity it stopped earlier under an agreement with the E.U. trio.
State Department spokesman Sean McCormack warned that if the reports were true, such a move would only “further isolate Iran from the international community.”
Like other arms of government, Iran’s parliament is dominated by hardliners. A parliamentary foreign policy committee said this week a bill being prepared would require the government to take retaliatory action should the IAEA meeting refer Iran to the Security Council.
Reprisals would include a resumption of uranium enrichment and restrictions on the right of IAEA officials to inspect Iranian facilities.
Iran’s top nuclear negotiator, Ali Larijani, was quoted by Iranian media as telling students this week that if the country was subjected to U.N. sanctions over its nuclear activities, oil prices could rise to $150 a barrel.
Since Ahmadinejad’s comments on Israel last week — and despite attempts by some Iranian diplomats to play them down — support for the comments has come from other top figures in the country.
Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei backed the president’s position and called the international community’s defense of Israel “shameful.”
Iran’s judiciary chief said Ahmadinejad’s remarks were in line with the Islamic Republic’s policy, while the head of the radical Revolutionary Guard predicted the downfall of Zionism.
In Rome, politicians from across the Italian political spectrum, including Fini, said they would join a demonstration outside the Iranian embassy Thursday, to express solidarity with Israel over Ahmadinejad’s calls for its destruction.
Iran’s foreign ministry on Wednesday summoned Italy’s ambassador to protest the planned march in the Italian capital.
Meanwhile, in another sweeping move suggesting a hardening of Iran’s stance towards the outside world, Ahmadinejad is reported to be recalling dozens of diplomats regarded as pro-reform, including Iran’s ambassador to London.
Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki told lawmakers that the terms of more than 40 diplomats would “expire” within months.
Since he took office following an unexpected election victory last June, the president – a former Revolutionary Guard senior officer – has launched a drive to elevate extremists to positions of influence.
His new cabinet and national security council are now dominated by individuals associated with the Revolutionary Guard.
Reprinted here with permission from CNSNews.com. Visit the website at www.cnsnews.com.
1. What anniversary did Iran celebrate on Wednesday? What is the name of this Anniversary? How did Iranians ‘celebrate’ this day?
2. Who threatened England on Tuesday? Why did they do so?
3. How did British Prime Minister Tony Blair react to Iranian President Ahmadinejad’s recent call for Israel to be “wiped off the map?” Tony Blair is not afraid to speak the truth. Do you agree with his straightforwardness? Explain your answer.
4. What three countries recently tried to persuade Iran to stop its nuclear activities? Why were they doing so?
5. The United Nation’s nuclear watchdog group (IAEA) will meet soon to decide whether Iran should be referred to the Security Council, which could then impose economic or even military sanctions on Iran. What has Iran said that it will do to retaliate should the UN’s IAEA even refer them to the UN Security Council?
6. Some Iranian diplomats have tried to downplay Ahmadinejad’s remarks. How is the Iranian government reacting to these diplomats?
7. Think about what the Iranian government has said about Isreal, America, England and the United Nations. Obtaining the capability to use nuclear weapons, do you doubt that they would use them against Israel? Explain your answer. Why is it good for Israel that Iran has announced its desires so publicly?
IRAN’S NUCLEAR PROGRAM: Iran’s 20 year secret nuclear program was discovered in 2002. Iran says its program is for fuel purposes only, but it has been working on uranium enrichment which is used to make nuclear bombs. Under the NPT (Non Proliferation Treaty) countries are not allowed to make nuclear weapons. The U.S. is attempting to get the UN’s IFEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) to refer Iran to the UN Security Council with the hope that if Iran does not stop their work, the Security Council will impose sanctions on Iran and cause them to comply with the NPT.
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