Last Updated: Sat Dec 04, 2010 13:12 pm (KSA) 10:12 am (GMT)

Iran will 'never use' force against Muslim neighbors

Iran's FM Mottaki cautioned against submitting to "pressure by outsiders to divide us and create instability"  
Iran's FM Mottaki cautioned against submitting to "pressure by outsiders to divide us and create instability"

Iran will never use force against its Muslim neighbors, its foreign minister told a conference on Middle East security on Saturday, after the United States said Arab states were worried by Tehran's suspected attempts to acquire nuclear weapons.

Iran's Manouchehr Mottaki said: "We have never used our force against our neighbors and never will because our neighbors are Muslims."

"Your power in the region is our power and our power is your power."

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had said in on Friday that U.S. concerns over Tehran's suspected atomic weapons program are shared by Iran's neighbors.

Mottaki cautioned against submitting to "pressure by outsiders to divide us and create instability," saying "the presence of foreign powers will not help establish security in the region" and urging cooperation among Gulf countries.

He said it was vital for Iran to "have stability and security, because we (Iran and its neighboring Gulf states) provide the world with most of its energy."

"Iran is determined to guarantee international security in the field of energy."

On Friday, Clinton said "there is no debate in the international community, and perhaps the Iranians will engage seriously... on what is a concern shared by nations on every continent, but most particularly right here in the region."

She was referring to talks due to start between major powers and Iran on Monday over Tehran's nuclear program.

"Because obviously if you're the neighbor of a country that is pursuing nuclear weapons, that is viewed in a much more threatening way than if you're a concerned country many thousands of miles away. But the concern is the same and we hope that Iran will respond."

The Manama Dialogue comes as U.S. diplomacy reels over State Department cables published by WikiLeaks.

Some of the most prominent headlines highlighted widespread fears among Arab countries in the Gulf about Iran's suspected nuclear weapons program and their calls to nip it in the bud.

"There is a level of concern that must be addressed by Iran," she said in a question-and-answer session after delivering the keynote speech at the conference. "Otherwise we are left drawing the worst of conclusions" about Iran's intentions. "And that is a recipe for the further destabilizing of this region in ways that would have long-term consequences."

If Iran believes that acquiring nuclear weapons would improve its security and strengthen its standing in the Middle East and the world, "that is an absolutely wrong calculation because it will trigger an arms race that would make the region less stable, less uncertain and cause serious repercussions far beyond the Gulf," Clinton said.

IAEA sending "spies"

Also on Saturday, Iran’s Intelligence Minister Heydar Moslehi accused the U.N. atomic watchdog of including "spies" among the inspectors it sends to Iran to monitor the nation's nuclear program.

"The International Atomic Energy Agency has dispatched spies of foreign agencies among its inspectors and thus should be held accountable for this move," he was quoted by state-run television's website as saying.

Moslehi did not elaborate, except to say that "international organizations that should prevent such acts are not fulfilling their duties."

This is not the first time that Iranian officials have singled out nuclear inspectors.

In late June, Iran barred two U.N. atomic watchdog inspectors from the country over a "false" nuclear report.

And last month, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said world powers were against solving the controversy over Iran's nuclear program and accused the IAEA of "giving information" to Washington.

Relations between Tehran and the Vienna-based watchdog have deteriorated since Japanese diplomat Yukiya Amano took over as director general just over a year ago.

On December 2, Amano appeared to sidestep accusations of leaking key information on Iran to the United States, saying communicating with member states was part of the agency's day-to-day business.

He insisted that he was impartial, even though a separate WikiLeaks cable revealed that the United States believed he sided firmly with Washington on the Iran issue.

The IAEA has been investigating Iran's controversial atomic drive for around eight years.

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