KARACHI, Nov 22: While Iran needs to be more “transparent” with regard to its nuclear programme and should continue to cooperate with the International Atomic Energy Agency, military action against the Islamic Republic is out of the question and will have destructive consequences for the region as well as the world.

Russian Consul General Andrey Demidov said this here on Tuesday while speaking on 'Russia's perspective on Iran' at a seminar held at the Pakistan Institute of International Affairs. The seminar — 'Importance of contemporary Iran in the Middle East and the world — was organised jointly by the PIIA and Khana-i-Farhang, the Cultural Centre of the Islamic Republic of Iran.

“In our view every country is important, yet at the same time we feel Iran is very special. We do our best to have good relations. We have overcome the misunderstandings of the first decade [after 1979's Islamic Revolution],” said Mr Demidov. “We have cooperated on nuclear technology. We support nuclear non-proliferation [and recognise] Iran has a right to develop a peaceful nuclear energy programme. We will continue to cooperate.”

He said the issue regarding Iran's alleged pursuit of nuclear weapons was “not easy” and stressed the need for Iran to “continue to cooperate with the IAEA. We do not want nuclear weapons on our southern borders. Our dialogue advances with difficulties”. He added that “only diplomatic means” should be used to resolve the issue and firmly condemned military intervention. In a thinly-veiled critique of the United States and its western allies he asked: “What was achieved in Iraq and Afghanistan? Libya is on the verge of civil war. Iranians are very tough people. They will not surrender. [War against Iran] will destabilise the world order.”

Speaking in a mix of Urdu and English, Abbas Ali Abdullahi, the Iranian Consul General in Karachi, said the past hundred years had proved that the “Superpowers do not care for the people's interest, but for their own interests. They bring bombs in the name of democracy and human rights”.

He said western powers had used chemical weapons in World War II, yet today these same powers were opposed to Iran's pursuit of atomic energy. “Iran has stated clearly that it wants deweaponisation and the destruction of all warheads. We don't need warheads”.

In his presidential address, Dr Abdolrahim Gavahi, a former senior diplomat and currently head of the Department of Future Studies at Iran's Academy of Sciences, said that at the dawn of the Islamic Revolution Iran's scientific achievements were not very high, yet today the country ranked first in the Muslim world where scientific advancement was concerned. “Today we export defence technology yet before we imported everything for defence needs”. He added that post-revolutionary Iran had also made strides in communications and nanotechnology.

“Thirty-three years ago we said we didn't want to be under the influence of the East or the West. We have paid the price for this. [The Iran-Iraq] war was imposed on us,” he observed.

'Nukes impermissible'

Dr Gavahi said that though he was not informed enough to discuss the specifics of the nuclear issue, Iran was a highly religious country that held its religious authorities in high esteem and in this regard he had asked Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Supreme Leader of Iran, as well as several ranking Grand Ayatollahs about the permissibility of nuclear weapons. He said the religious authorities had informed him that weapons of mass destruction were prohibited, while only one Grand Ayatollah said the weapons may be considered for defence purposes.

“Our leaders will lose their credibility if we make nuclear weapons. However, the world should also question Israel. There should be one standard for all”.

Iranian scholar Dr Jawed Mohammadi said that since 1979, the first decade was dedicated to the establishment of the revolution, the second to renewal after the Iran-Iraq War while the third decade witnessed “dynamic developments in the fields of science and technology in the face of strong sanctions and terrorism”. He urged Muslim nations to return to their religious roots and to foster cooperation in science and technology.

In his paper on Iran's pursuit of peaceful nuclear technology, retired Brig Agha Ahmed Gul stated that by denying Iran the right to enrich uranium, the US and West were “trying to reassert their hegemony over Iran”. He added that as long as Iran “remains within the confines of the NPT” it should “continue [its] endeavours to pursue a peaceful nuclear programme”.

Dr Naheed Anjum Chishti, also speaking on Iran's nuclear programme, said the US had “double standards” as that country itself was not a party to the NPT.

Dr Muhammad Ali of the University of Karachi reiterated the need to find a diplomatic solution to Iran's nuclear imbroglio and prevent a military conflict.

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