Lukashenko Stresses Mutual Understanding between Iran, Belarus

A041791811.jpgTEHRAN (FNA)- Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko described his country’s relations with Iran as smooth and transparent.

“We understand each other, we have neither reservations, nor problems in bilateral relations,” Lukashenko told Iran’s visiting Minister of Industries and Mines Ali Akbar Mehrabian in a meeting in the former Soviet republic’s capital of Minsk on Thursday.

Lukashenko also said that the bilateral trade figure of $80 million in 2007 between Belarus and the Islamic Republic had great potential for growth, calling the current level, “laughable.”

Mehrabian passed on a written message from Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and said, “President Ahmadinejad has emphasized more than once that we should develop relations with countries like Belarus.”

The Iranian minister and his Belarusian counterpart had previously had two days of talks, which the former called “fruitful and intensive”.

The two countries are also united by tensions with the US.

The US has accused the Belarus president of clamping down on dissent. Lukashenko, who was re-elected to a third term in 2006, has been blacklisted from entering the US.

Tensions between the U.S. and Belarus heightened after Washington imposed sanctions last November against Belarus’s state-controlled petrochemical company Belneftekhim. Washington froze the assets of the Belarusian company’s US subsidiary and demanded the release of “political prisoners” in a blatant violation of another country’s domestic affairs.

Iran’s nuclear program led to US President George Bush refusing late last year to rule out military action against Teheran, despite a report by the country’s intelligence community which suggested that the Islamic Republic is pursuing a peaceful nuclear program.

The United States and its Western allies accuse Iran of trying to develop nuclear weapons under the cover of a civilian nuclear program, while they have never presented any corroborative document to substantiate their allegations. Iran denies the charges and insisted that its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes only.

Tehran stresses that the country has always pursued a civilian path to provide power to the growing number of Iranian population, whose fossil fuel would eventually run dry.

Iran has repeatedly said that it considers its nuclear case closed after it answered the UN agency’s questions about the history of its nuclear program.

But the US is still at loggerheads with Iran over the independent and home-grown nature of Tehran’s nuclear technology, which gives the Islamic Republic the potential to turn into a world power and a role model for other third-world countries. Washington has laid much pressure on Iran to make it give up the most sensitive and advanced part of the technology, which is uranium enrichment, a process used for producing nuclear fuel for power plants.

Washington’s push for additional UN penalties contradicted the recent report by 16 US intelligence bodies that endorsed the civilian nature of Iran’s programs. Following the US National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) and similar reports by the IAEA head – one in November and the other one in February – which praised Iran’s truthfulness about key aspects of its past nuclear activities and announced settlement of outstanding issues with Tehran, any effort to impose further sanctions on Iran seemed to be completely irrational.

The February report by the UN nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency, praised Iran’s cooperation in clearing up all of the past questions over its nuclear program, vindicating Iran’s nuclear program and leaving no justification for any new UN sanctions.

Tehran says it wants to enrich uranium merely for civilian purposes, including generation of electricity, a claim substantiated by the NIE and IAEA reports.

Iran has also insisted that it would continue enriching uranium because it needs to provide fuel to a 300-megawatt light-water reactor it is building in the southwestern town of Darkhoveyn as well as its first nuclear power plant in the southern port city of Bushehr.

Not only Iranian officials, but many other world nations have also called the UN Security Council pressure against Tehran as unjustified, especially in the wake of recent IAEA reports saying Iran had increased cooperation with the agency.

Bush’s attempt to rally international pressure against Iran has lost steam due to the growing international vigilance, specially following the latest IAEA and US intelligence reports.

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