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May 7, 2012 | by  | in News |
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VUWSA Confers With Iran

Relationship remains cordial.

The Iranian Ambassador to Wellington, Seyed Majid Tafreshi Khamene, told a student forum last Thursday that “Iran has always been a peace-loving country, and will always remain so.”

The panel discussion, which was organised by VUWSA, also featured Green MP and former diplomat Kennedy Graham and foreign-policy expert Bob Rigg.

Although the topic of the forum was ostensibly “Nuclear Issues in Iran,” the foreign policy of the United States and the regional impact of Israel’s arms programme attracted almost as much attention from the three speakers.

The forum reflected growing tensions in the Middle East, and increasing speculation that an Israeli-led attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities might be imminent. Dr Andrew Ladley, who chaired the discussion, warned the hundred-strong audience that “we’re facing a very dangerous period around the next few weeks. It’s been building and building, and the window for action is getting narrower and narrower.”

Though Tafreshi attempted to reassure his audience that Iran’s nuclear intentions were purely peaceful, and part of a nuclear energy programme that has been ongoing since 1969. He also rubbished suggestions that Iran had any belligerent intentions towards the state of Israel.

“How can you wipe off [the map] something you don’t recognise? Are we going to wipe off Islamic Palestine?” he said.

Invoking the spectre of the last war in Iraq, the Ambassador also challenged the intelligence upon which accusations against Iran were based.

“If it is proved – like Iraq – that there has been no threat from the beginning, who will be responsible for all the spiritual and physical damage to the Iranian nation?”

Kennedy Graham conceded that “as a medium-level regional power, Iran has done nothing yet other than pursue its legitimate national security interests.” He condemned the heated rhetoric emanating from Washington and Tel Aviv.

“Both the United States and Israel should not use the irresponsible phrase: ‘all options are on the table’. Not all options are on the table! You can’t use military force if it is illegal,” Graham said.

He also warned the Iranian authorities that “Iran needs to give political signals that
are constructive and novel in a way that it hasn’t before.”

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