Iranian envoy calls on US to rethink its Gulf policy. The US wants Iran to clearly accept a UN cease-fire call - soon. Iran claims the cease-fire resolution amounts to unfair political pressure, and rejects being cast as an exporter of revolution. In Monitor interviews, officials from both sides defend their views.
United Nations, N.Y.
Iran's Deputy Foreign Minister Muhammad Javed Larijani is visiting the UN to discuss his country's stand on the Security Council's call for a Gulf war cease-fire. Mr. Larijani is scheduled to meet the UN Secretary-General and Security Council members. United States officials have indicated that unless Larijani is bringing an unequivocal acceptance of Resolution 598 (the July 20 cease-fire resolution), the council must turn to enforcement measures. They have expressed willingness to meet him.
The following are excerpts from an interview:
Are you interested in a meeting with US officials while you're here?
... if they meant by this offer a political act which has some rationale which leads to rapprochement between Iran and America, or [that] it will lead to some valuable political objective, I cannot see anything in it.
The US is leading a policy of antagonism against us. It's massing up troops on our border in the south and using any political means that is available ... to put pressure on Iran. I don't think this is an atmosphere in which we can talk for rapprochement.
You are critical of the US military presence in the Gulf, despite it's effect of deterring Iraqi attacks on shipping?
The military presence will have a very bad effect on the already de facto cease-fire, because it makes the situation volatile ... Political pressure made the Iraqis not attack the ships. This brought a kind of de facto cease-fire. ...
There is the fear that if there is a de facto cease-fire in Gulf waters, Iran will again pursue the land war.
The cease-fire in the Persian Gulf, by itself, is a contribution to the whole lessening of tension in the [overall] war. ... As to whether we are ready to accept cease-fire on the land and in the air - definitely we are interested in any action, any step which is part of a comprehensive approach to the settlement of this conflict.
The Security Council feels the next step must be Iran's acceptance of Resolution 598.
Unfortunately, we don't see it that way. The Security Council's resolution suffers from very serious defects. [It was] based on a philosophy of pressure on Iran, not on ... fairness between the two sides. [It asks] for an immediate cease-fire and withdrawal to international borders. What are these international borders? Because Iraqi President Saddam Hussein went on TV in 1980 and tore up the agreement that we had ... we need a meeting to find what are the borders.
The US interest seems to be in containing the spread of the Iranian revolution.
I tell you frankly that once a revolution is under way, it will immediately be propagated beyond its borders. That happened to the French Revolution, to the revolution in the Soviet Union. And this is true for our revolution [which] from the day of inception was out of its border. It's not because it was us who want to export it. It goes by itself.
Islamic revolution is ... a renaissance in the Islamic world. Nobody can stop it. I think for the West it is better to cope with it, to live with it, rather than stand in front of it.
You don't think Secretary of State George Shultz's recent statement - about accepting your revolution as a fact - was a gesture toward Iran?
One problem we have with the US is lack of confidence. ... One day we see [former National Security Adviser, Robert] McFarlane in Tehran. When we try to build upon that, we witness other moves in the US to undermine that gesture ... Frankly speaking, we lost all of our confidence in any gesture shown by the US. Let [US] policy pass through the ups and downs, and get a little bit more systematic.
What would it take to improve US-Iranian relations?
It is very simple, I think. America should revise, rethink, its policy toward Iran. It should get rid of this paranoia about Islamic revolution. It confiscated enormous wealth from us. It is helping, politically and otherwise, encouraging other countries against us. It should stop that. And, it should give us some concrete signals. Words are not counted.
On Page 7 of yesterday's Monitor, a photograph of Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Velayati was mistakenly identified as Iran's deputy foreign minister, Muhammad Javed Larijani. Mr. Larijani is pictured above on the right. At left is Iran's UN ambassador, Said Rajaie Khorassani. The Monitor regrets the error.