The Guardian 7 March, 2007

Russia warns US on Iran moves

Russiaís Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov warned the United States last week not to take military action against Iran. He said that the US-led multinational foreign forces in Iraq must not conduct military operations outside the country, including against Iran.

Mr Lavrov told the Lebanese magazine Al Watan Al-Arabi in an interview that "the multinational force in Iraq should abide strictly by the UN Security Councilís mandate, which does not provide for any operations outside the country".

"The escalation of the conflict and its possible spread beyond Iraqi borders will inevitably result in catastrophic consequences and not for the Middle East alone", Lavrov said. "I believe Washington understands this."

Lavrov told the Lebanese newspaper that a timetable was needed for the coordinated and gradual evacuation of all foreign military forces from Iraq. He said that was essential to bring stability to the troubled Middle Eastern nation.

US confrontation

The long-standing confrontation between the US and Iran deteriorated further in January when American servicemen burst into Iranís mission in Erbil (Kurdistan) and detained five officials. American troops disarmed guards and confiscated computers and documents without providing any explanation.

The US has also sent two aircraft carrier groups into the Persian Gulf but this may turn out to be a serious and dangerous miscalculation as Iranís considerable military forces are equipped with medium range missiles which are believed to be able to knock out even heavily armoured vessels. In February, Iran tested a sub-orbital rocket which is said to have reached about 250 kilometres above earth which is the height necessary to place a satellite in orbit. On this occasion no satellite was put into orbit but it showed that Iran possesses considerable missile and satellite capacity.

No more war

In a strongly worded statement issued last week, the Tudeh Party of Iran (Communist Party) reasserted its opposition to any new military adventure in the Middle East. Any intensification of military or political conflict in the region will be against the interests of the people of Iran, the Middle East region and global peace, it said.

"There is a similarity between the events taking place in recent months with those in the period leading to the invasion of Iraq. Let's make no mistake. The US is known for fabricating convenient Ďevidenceí to justify its criminal policies."

The US recently accused Iran of directly backing terrorist activities in Iraq, costing the lives of 170 US military personnel. The Tudeh Party argues that this is merely an attempt to convince public opinion in the US and Europe that George Bush and his neo-con allies are justified in targeting Iran for military action.

The Party statement accused the Iranian regime of pursuing a reckless and provocative foreign policy which, rather than winning international acceptance of its right to develop nuclear technology for peaceful purposes, has advanced Washington's strategy in the region.

"Despite the regime's propaganda, achieving nuclear technology for peaceful purposes, which is an inalienable right of our nation, has now been jeopardised due to the regime's reactionary policies."

The current tense conditions have led Ahmadinejadís government to justify the suppression of all opposition. It has imposed even greater censorship on an already tightly gagged media and has staged demonstrations backing its policies to mislead international and local public opinion.

The situation has also seriously undermined the peace movement inside Iran and prevented it from linking up with the international anti-war movement.

The Tudeh Partyís statement called upon all the progressive and democratic forces in Iran to unite and to step up their efforts to defend the sovereignty and democratic development of the country.

The only way forward is through negotiations and dialogue, it says, adding that the imposition of sanctions against Iran would only harm ordinary Iranians.

The Party has long argued that a peaceful regional and global environment is needed in order for the opposition to replace the current theocratic regime with a democratic, progressive and modern Iran representing the true will of the people.

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