TEHRAN (FNA) – The year 2008 is a crucial year where many regional and international developments are taking place which have direct impact on both Iran and Pakistan.Dr M. Mohammadi, Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister for Education and Research, said this in the opening session of 7th ISSI-IPIS Bilateral Dialogue organized jointly by the Institute of Strategic Studies in Islamabad (ISSI), in collaboration with Tehran’s Institute of Political and International Studies (IPIS).
He said global powers were reshaping their policies towards the Middle-East region, which was essentially the Muslim world.
He emphasized the role of think-tanks for giving valuable input to policy makers at this juncture.
In the opening session, Dr Shireen M. Mazari, ISSI Director General, welcomed the Iranian delegation and emphasized the need to assess the bilateral relations between the two countries and figure out where to go in the future.
During the first session of the seminar titled ‘Nuclear Proliferation Issues’ the Iranian speaker talked about the Iranian nuclear program at length and explained its peaceful nature.
He explained the reasons why Iran was pursuing nuclear energy when it had vast reserves of oil and gas which included the need to diversify the country’s energy resources in the face of growing energy consumption and increasing population.
He also pointed out that the need to develop an indigenous nuclear fuel cycle arose from a lack of assurance of supply from Western sources and the absence of an international mechanism of supply.
The fact that Iran was referred to the Security Council despite extensive cooperation from Iran arose from political motivations, not technical problems in Iran’s nuclear program.
He said that Iran’s referral to the Security Council on account of non- compliance with the safeguards obligations was illegal, and a third round of Security Council sanctions against Iran was unjustified and counterproductive.
The Pakistani speaker pointed out a shift in the focus in non-proliferation issues in the post 9/11 within the US and its allies: a shift from non-proliferation to a focus on the nuclear programs of certain countries and that the hype about non-state actors and terrorists acquiring nuclear weapons was irrational and should be dismissed on technical grounds.
Regarding the Indo-US civil nuclear deal, it was stressed that making India-specific safeguards agreements would further weaken the non-proliferation regime.
The session concluded by stressing that the discriminatory approach to non- proliferation had to be dispensed with.
In the second session titled, ‘Regional Security Issues, relating especially to Afghanistan and the Persian Gulf’ both the Iranian and Pakistani sides identified the need for local mechanisms to deal with the various problems that continue to plague region.
In this context special reference was made to the situation in Afghanistan and the need for an indigenous regional mechanism to resolve the various problems that the country is faced with.
In summing up, the session chair termed Pakistan and Iran as natural partners on account of their common history, culture and religion and that both the countries had the ability to foster a better understanding amongst the countries of the region.
He said the importance of the elements of soft power had been ignored too long and in this context the time was ripe for both countries to make diplomatic overtures to promote cooperation in the fields of culture and economics.
In the third session titled, ‘Bilateral Pakistan-Iran relations,’ the speakers focused on dynamics of bilateral relations between Pakistan and Iran ranging from economics to defense cooperation.
The speakers also enumerated the irritants and cleavages in the relationship due to sectarian problem, Afghanistan, nuclear issue and states alliances with extra-regional powers that encounter the relationship.
They also emphasized the need to develop people-to-people contact on enhanced level and greater economic cooperation between the two countries.