Iranians set to launch offensive - on the diplomatic front
United Nations, N.Y.
Iran is mounting a new diplomatic campaign at the United Nations to bring the international community around to its point of view on the Gulf war. Muhammad Javed Larijani, Iran's deputy foreign minister, arrives at the UN today. He is expected to discuss Iran's position of non-acceptance/non-rejection - on the UN Security Council's July 20 cease-fire resolution. And next month, Iranian President Ali Khamenei, one of the main denouncers of the United States, is slated to head Iran's delegation to the annual UN General Assembly session.
Iran's aim is to avoid being cited for non-compliance with the cease-fire resolution, which would make Iran subject to sanctions. The Iranians also hope to head off any move in the General Assembly for a show of numbers which could display overhelming support of the council's cease-fire call.
Iraq has called for immediate sanctions against Iran. In an August 16 letter to UN Secretary-General Javier P'erez de Cu'ellar, Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Tareq Aziz charged that Iran's official response to the Security Council's resolution has, in fact, been an unequivocal rejection.
``Those who gloss over the Iranian position...,'' are not serving the cause of peace, Mr. Aziz wrote. They are encouraging ``the regime, which scorns international law ... and has no respect for international organizations, to persist in a policy which has brought catastrophes upon the region and whose effects have also been felt in other regions of the world.''
Iraq is expected to exert increasing pressure on the Security Council - and especially on the five permanent members - to consider a follow-up resolution containing sanctions. A meeting of the Arab League in Tunis on August 23 will likely dispatch high-level delegations to various capitals to urge collective UN action against Iran.
Since the ambiguous Iranian response to the resolution two weeks ago, the council has put off any immediate move to consider sanctions. When M. P'erez de Cu'ellar asked the council for guidance on evaluating the reactions of the two parties, he was urged last Thursday to keep contacts with both. The council also said the resolution should be taken as a whole and imlemented urgently. This guidance commits the council to a fairly literal interpretation of the resolution and carries it a step closer to sanctions - which some members are reportedly reluctant to impose on Iran - while still preserving a united front.
Mr. Larijani, born in Najaf, Iraq (Khoemeni's home-in-exile for many years) and educated at the University of California at Berkeley, is said to be one of the more pragmatic and influential members of Iran's Foreign Ministry. He is also said to be the Iranian official delegated to spearhead contacts to improve relations with the US. The UN Secretary-General is set to explore whether there is a way to discuss an over-all cease-fire, given Iran's preference that an impartial bodyfirst determine who began the war.