China, Russia court Iran after EU’s tough curbs

By The Hindu

A defiant Iran has asserted that imposition of international sanctions will neither disrupt national unity nor slow down its progress in science and military technology.

As a new round of stringent sanctions imposed by the European Union kicked in, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei said “that stoking instability in different countries is among the arrogant [powers’] insidious policies”. He said Iran enjoys “exemplary peace and political stability,” due to the awareness of the Iranian people about environment and involvement in national affairs.

The imposition of unilateral sanctions outside the U.N. framework seemed to have quickly embedded itself in the realm of geopolitics.

Already at loggerheads in Syria, the sanctions sharpened the divide between the U.S. and the China-Russia combine. Washington welcomed EU’s decision as illustrating the growing strength of “international efforts to pressure and isolate the Iranian government”.

But China, using tough language, criticised the EU’s move. “We oppose the imposition of unilateral sanctions on Iran and believe that using sanctions to exert pressure cannot fundamentally resolve the Iran nuclear issue,” said Foreign Ministry Spokesman Hong Lei.

“It can only make the situation more complex and intensify confrontation… We hope that all relevant parties can show flexibility, increase communication and push for a new round of talks as soon as possible,” he observed.

In August, the Russian Foreign Ministry had warned Washington that its pursuit of unilateral sanctions could harm its ties with Moscow. “Washington should understand that our bilateral relations will suffer considerably if the American restrictions affect Russian economic entities cooperating with partners in the Islamic Republic of Iran in strict compliance with our legislation and UN Security Council resolutions,” the Ministry said on its website.

Ayatollah Khamenei said Iran’s foes, who were trying to wear out and frustrate Iranians with sanctions, must learn their lessons from his country’s will and determination to defend itself. He pointed out that Iran had managed to demonstrate its “capabilities to the world despite the enemies’ threats, sanctions and wickedness”.

The Supreme Leader was responding to the European Union’s imposition of a slew of tough sanctions against Iran to seemingly curb Tehran’s alleged drive to achieve nuclear weapon capability. The sanctions ban export of Iranian gas to the EU as well as financial transactions involving European and Iranian banks, with some exceptions for items covering humanitarian aid, food and medicine purchases.

Iran would now be unable to import from EU industrial software, graphite, and the metals which the grouping believes could be used for the development of ballistic missiles. Eurozone companies are also prohibited from exporting shipbuilding technology and classification services to Iranian tankers and cargo vessels.

In Tehran, authorities also flayed the EU for muzzling broadcast of 19 Iranian satellite channels, bringing into question the grouping’s self-espoused commitment to freedom of speech. The gag affected two popular Iranians channels — Press TV and Al Alam in Arabic because France’s Eutelsat and UK’s Arqiva satellite providers have pulled the plug on them.

The stifling sanctions against Iran, egged on by the U.S. are building a new wave of fury inside Iran.

Ramin Mehmanparast, Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman condemned the EU sanctions as illegitimate and illegal. An Iranian lawmaker warned that Iran would enrich uranium to 60-per cent level — much closer to the above-90 per cent enrichment mark required for making a bomb — if talks between Iran and the six global powers proved futile.

“In case our [multifaceted] talks with the P5+1 group — including the U.S., the U.K., France, China, Russia and Germany — fail to pay off, Iranian youth will master [the technology for] enrichment [of uranium] up to 60 per cent [purity] to fuel [Iranian] submarines and ocean-going ships,” Mansour Haqiqatpour, deputy head of Iran Majlis (Parliament) Foreign Policy and National Security Committee, said on Tuesday.


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