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    Middle East
     Jan 14, 2012


Iran has pay back in mind
By Kaveh L Afrasiabi

PALO ALTO, California - Despite a strong pitch by Iran, the United Nations has failed to condemn the latest assassination of an Iranian nuclear scientist, thus sending a bad signal about the UN's determination to fight global terrorism and to condemn all acts of terrorism even-handedly.

Instead of a swift and decisive response to the letter by Iran's ambassador to the UN, Mohammad Khazaee, to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, the 15 members of the UN Security Council and the president of the UN General Assembly, requesting the UN's condemnation of the terror of scientist Mostafa Rahimi Roshan and his driver in Tehran this week, the only reaction so far has been by Ban's spokesperson promising "to study" the request.

This silence in the face of a clear act of terrorism, attributed to

 

United States and Israel intelligence services by Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in his message of condolence on Thursday, speaks volumes about the UN, the fact that it is under the sway of the US and other Western powers that pay-lip service to human rights when it comes to victims of terrorism in Iran.

Roshan, 32, was killed when two men on a motorbike attached a magnetic bomb to his vehicle in Tehran. His driver/bodyguard later died. Roshan was a deputy director at Iran's Natanz uranium enrichment facility, according to the website of the university he graduated from a decade ago, Sharif University.

The UN's Human Rights Council, as well as an array of rights activists who are always up in arms in condemning rights abuses in Iran, have been quiet with respect to the assassination.

This does not bode well for an international organization committed to the maintenance of global peace and security, especially since such violence begets more violence, in light of popular fury in Iran and the growing calls for Iran to retaliate - some have even called for targeting US and Israeli scientists who regularly attend international conferences.

According to a source in Iran, Tehran is on the verge of making clear that "all bets are off and one more incident like this and then their [US and Israeli] scientists will be fair game".

Roshan's murder coincided with the second anniversary of the assassination of another scientist, Masoud Ali Mohammadi, a Tehran University professor, who was killed in a similar manner by a bomb attached to his vehicle.

"This cowardly terror is a sign of global bullying powers' desperation in the face of determined Iranian people," Khamenei stated.

Other Iranian officials, including first Vice President Mohammad Reza Rahimi and various members of the parliament (Majlis), have connected this assassination to the parliamentary elections scheduled for next month, accusing "foreign powers" of seeking to destabilize Iran.

The US and Britain have denied any involvement in the assassination, although a front page story in the New York Times detailed the specifics of a stepped-up campaign of terrorism, cyber-attacks, etc in Iran aimed at halting Iran's controversial nuclear program. Some US editorials, including one in the Los Angeles Times, have categorically denounced the terror attack and have likened it to al-Qaeda terrorism. [1].

But, whatever the intention of the perpetrators, the act has backfired in sections of the global community by turning the tables on Iran's wealth of adversaries and depicting Iran as a victim, rather than an instigator of terrorism.

This was most vividly visible in President Mahmud Ahmadinejad's Latin America five-day tour, which ended on Thursday with a meeting with Ecuador's President Rafael Correa, this after a private chat with the ailing Fidel Castro in Havana in Cuba on Wednesday and attending a ceremony for Nicaragua's President Daniel Ortega on Tuesday, the whole trip serving as a snub to the US and its coercive diplomacy toward Iran.

In addition to harvesting timely Latin solidarity, Iran also received a big break from Europe, which has decided to delay a decision on an oil embargo on Iran for another six months, clearly unhappy news for Washington and Tel Aviv, whose envoys are busy lobbying various nations to go along with the US-imposed sanctions on trade with Iran.

Russia, too, has announced that it opposes oil sanctions, calling for new multilateral talks with Iran on the nuclear issue, a move supported by Iran's key neighbor Turkey, which is pressing hard for new "Iran Six" talks to be held in Turkey in the near future. These suspended talks on Iran's nuclear program - which some suspect to be designed to develop nuclear weapons - include the five permanent members of the UN Security Council - the US, Britain, France China, Russia - plus Germany.

A clear affront to the US and the pro-Israel lobbyists, the Turkish government has sent a clear signal that it will continue its voluminous trade that includes a growing energy partnership, despite US sanctions. Similarly, Pakistan has announced that it will continue normal trade with Iran and that it is intent on finishing the badly-need Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline.

A big question mark, however, hovers over China, whose leaders refused to consent to the US lobbying for curtailing energy trade with Iran, pitched by visiting Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner. Most likely China will sustain its energy links with Iran while simultaneously seeking to further diversify its sources of foreign oil imports.

On the con side, as far as Iran is concerned, is the news that Geithner had a more successful trip to Tokyo, which has agreed to cut down its energy ties with Iran, yet falling short of an all-out embargo. Much depends on Tokyo's follow-up action, the amount of reduced oil from Iran, before one can conclude if (the weakened) Japan has actually become another compliant follower of the US's coercive policy toward Iran, just as South Korea has announced its compliance with the US wish ahead of Geithner's Asia trip.

This is not to mention the rumor mill that India has ordered its oil industry to prepare for reduced dependence on Iranian oil. Overall, with Russia and China resisting the US-led sanctions regime and Europe delaying action, as far as Tehran is concerned the bottle is still half-full rather than half-empty.

In conclusion, to return to the subject of the UN's inaction with respect to anti-Iran terrorism, this will be harmful to Ban's image and will likely strengthen Iran's hands in its alliance politics focused on the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), in light of a letter by Iran's envoy to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Ali Asghar Soltanieh, to NAM nations requesting their steadfast condemnation of such blatant acts of terror against nuclear scientists.

This means that Iran's position at the IAEA has been somewhat strengthened by an act of terrorism that follows the sinister aim of depleting Iran of its scientific nuclear know-how.

Notes
1. On Iran, how far is too far? Los Angeles Times, January 12, 2012.



Kaveh L Afrasiabi, PhD, is the author of After Khomeini: New Directions in Iran's Foreign Policy (Westview Press) . For his Wikipedia entry, click here. He is author of Reading In Iran Foreign Policy After September 11 (BookSurge Publishing , October 23, 2008) and Looking for rights at Harvard. His latest book is UN Management Reform: Selected Articles and Interviews on United Nations CreateSpace (November 12, 2011).

(Copyright 2012 Asia Times Online (Holdings) Ltd. All rights reserved. Please contact us about sales, syndication and republishing.)


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