News / Middle East

Iran Reacts With Anger, Threats to New UN Sanctions

Iran's top leaders mixed anger with threats, following Wednesday's United Nations Security Council vote imposing new sanctions on the Islamic Republic over its suspected nuclear program.

Iran's top leaders vented their anger in public Thursday.

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad dubbed the sanctions "rubbish." Parliament's national security chief, Alaeddin Boroujerdi, vowed to "revise Iran's relations" with the U.N.'s nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).  He also called the sanctions "political, illegal and illogical."

Parliament speaker, Ali Larijani, lashed out bitterly at Western nations, without naming them, saying that their hatred towards Iran is deep-seated.

He says that there are certain Western countries that like to throw stones at the Islamic Republic, and that throwing stones, he argues, is far worse than just mere animosity.

Iran's Ambassador to the IAEA, Ali Asghar Soltanieh, insisted Thursday that Tehran would "not allow the U.S. to dictate the IAEA's agenda," suggesting that threats to pull out of the organization or revise Iran's relations with it were just posturing.

The head of Iran's Atomic Energy Organization, Ali Akbar Salehi, also toned down his criticism of the IAEA and of the U.N. Security Council in remarks to the Iranian press, saying that no decision would be made "until after a thorough review."

Commentators on Iranian government television complained about being "betrayed" by both Russia and China, traditional allies of Tehran, which voted in favor of the new round of sanctions.

Alex Vatanka of Janes' Islamic Affairs Analyst says that the new round of sanctions spell a serious failure on the part of Iranian diplomacy and have embarrassed President Ahmadinejad.

"There is less of a pretending on the part of officials, even hard-line officials in Iran, that the diplomatic game is going anywhere. When Ahmadinejad is saying publicly to Russia 'please don't side with our enemies,' he's almost begging, and it shows how Iran's diplomatic endeavors have failed," Vatanka said.

Vatanka believes that Iranian politicians from all factions, including Mr. Ahmadinejad's supporters, are now starting to criticize his handling of Iran's nuclear dossier with the West, but that he doubts parliament will take any rash action towards the IAEA.

"The statements of Boroujerdi are standard, typical and to be expected, but I doubt very much that [Iran is] going to walk away from the IAEA, and the comments by [Iran's ambassador to the IAEA] Ali Asghar Soltanieh were quite telling. Soltanieh says 'we will not let Washington dictate the IAEA's workings. That suggests to me that they are going to stick with the IAEA," Vatanka said.

Meir Javedanfar of the MEEPAS Center in Tel Aviv, however, isn't entirely sure if Iran will take action against the IAEA, following Thursday's threats.

"The Iranian government is trying to send a message to the West that its recent actions carry a price and these are threats," Javedanfar said. "Whether Iran will translate them into actions, such as reduction of cooperation with the IAEA, is another matter."

The Iranian parliament is due to meet Sunday to discuss what to do following the imposition of new sanctions. President Ahmadinejad, meanwhile, is in China, trying to mend ties that have come under increasing strain.

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