Iran invites Security Council over for dinner
Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki will host a dinner tonight for the 15 members of the U.N. Security Council, including a senior U.S. diplomat, at Iran’s sumptuous Fifth Avenue townhouse, according to Security Council diplomats. The Iranian invitation is part of Tehran’s campaign to counter U.S. and European efforts to secure support in the Security ...
Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki will host a dinner tonight for the 15 members of the U.N. Security Council, including a senior U.S. diplomat, at Iran's sumptuous Fifth Avenue townhouse, according to Security Council diplomats.
Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki will host a dinner tonight for the 15 members of the U.N. Security Council, including a senior U.S. diplomat, at Iran’s sumptuous Fifth Avenue townhouse, according to Security Council diplomats.
The Iranian invitation is part of Tehran’s campaign to counter U.S. and European efforts to secure support in the Security Council for a fourth round of sanctions against Tehran. It follows a public relations effort by Iranian president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who appeared on several U.S. television programs this week, to show that Iran’s nuclear program is aimed at producing energy, not nuclear weapons.
The United States has confirmed they will attend the dinner, but that they will not send their U.N. top diplomat, Susan Rice. Instead, Alejandro D. Wolff, the second highest-ranking ambassador at the U.S. mission, will represent Washington at the dinner. France’s and Britain’s top diplomats are out of town and they will also be represented by their second-highest-ranking U.N.-based diplomats. But most other countries are expected to send their top representatives.
A U.S. official said the United States had low expectations that the dinner would lead to a diplomatic breakthrough, but that they are willing to give the Iranians a chance to make their case. "We view this as an opportunity for Iran to speak to its international obligations," said a U.S. official, who spoke on condition of anonymity. "We go into this clear-eyed. We don’t have any indication they are willing to live up their obligations."
The Iranian invitation comes as the United States and other permanent members of the council are engaged in complex closed-door negotiations on a resolution that would sanction Iran for failing to meet its demands to cease it enrichment of uranium. A U.S. draft would impose a comprehensive arms embargo on Iran, curtail foreign investment in the country’s energy sector, and authorize foreign vessels to seize Iranian ships suspected of transporting banned weapons.
The United States maintains that its presence at the dinner should not be interpreted as a sign that it is backing away from sanctions. "This is a dual-track strategy of engagement on one hand and pressure on the other, " said the U.S. official. The official added "the meeting itself is another indication of the length to which the Iranians are going to make their case. They clearly recognize that the ongoing effort in the Security Council and elsewhere are isolating them."
The move comes as Tehran has announced its intention to negotiate a nuclear agreement, mediated by Brazil and Turkey, that could lead to Iran’s shipping its low-enriched uranium abroad in exchange for receiving a supply of more purified grade of uranium needed to fuel a medical reactor in Tehran. Iran possess over 2 tons of low enriched uranium-enough to produce two atomic bombs if Iranian scientists were able to overcome significant technical hurdles to converting it into weapons grade fuel.
"We have said that we are ready to engage in a swap of fuel and we feel that if the other party shows even a minimum level of sincerity we can resolve the impasse," Ahmadinejad told reporters Tuesday.
The International Atomic Energy proposed the fuel swap back in October as a means of guaranteeing Iran can obtain the nuclear fuel it needs while assuring the United States. and other key powers at the United Nation that Iran is not able to divert it uranium to a clandestine nuclear weapons program. Iran initially agreed to discuss the deal, but then later rejected talks. China and Russia have urged Iran to accept the IAEA offer as a way to break Tehran’s nuclear impasse.
Colum Lynch was a staff writer at Foreign Policy between 2010 and 2022. Twitter: @columlynch
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