Iran’s Nuclear Crisis Causes Unease in Armenia

Article by Emil Danielyan, originally published by The Jamestown Foundation

Armenia is watching, with unease, the latest developments in neighboring Iran’s standoff with the international community over its controversial nuclear program. The new, harsher sanctions imposed by the UN Security Council on Tehran last week raise fresh questions over the growing Armenian-Iranian economic ties which successive governments in Yerevan have considered strategically important for their landlocked country.

Some local politicians and experts are now concerned that the Armenian government will come under pressure from Western powers, and the US in particular, to suspend multi-million dollar commercial projects with Iran mainly centered on energy. Sergey Shakariants, an independent political analyst, predicted “new obstacles in Iran’s relations with its neighbors, including Armenia” (www.panarmenian.net, June 10).

Hovannes Hovannisian, a senior member of the main opposition Armenian National Congress (HAK), offered a more sobering forecast: “Armenia will find itself in a severe situation, with Georgia remaining its sole connection to the outside world,” he claimed (Aravot, June 11). The pro-opposition daily, Zhamanak, speculated on the same day that Yerevan could soon be forced to openly take sides in the nuclear crisis.

The only official Armenian reaction to the UN sanctions thus far was a statement issued on June 10 by the Foreign Ministry Spokesman, Tigran Balayan, to the Armenpress news agency. “Armenia is attentively following the developments unfolding over Iran’s nuclear program and believes that all contentious issues must be resolved by means of peaceful negotiations,” he said, adding, “We hope that further efforts by Iran and the international community will lead to mutually acceptable solutions.”

The carefully worded statement said nothing about the impact of the Security Council resolution on Armenian-Iranian ties. As was the case in the past, Yerevan avoided criticizing or expressing concern about the Iranian nuclear program, underscoring the Islamic Republic’s economic and geopolitical significance for its sole Christian neighbor.

Having a warm rapport with Iran has been a rare issue of national consensus in Armenia ever since independence. The unresolved conflict over Karabakh and the resulting economic sanctions imposed by Azerbaijan and Turkey have left its governments with few viable alternatives. Armenian leaders regularly praise Iran’s “balanced” stance on the Karabakh dispute and emphasize its status as one of Armenia’s two conduits to the world. President, Serzh Sargsyan, described Iran as “a reliable partner and a country with a pivotal significance in the region” during talks with Iranian Foreign Minister, Manouchehr Mottaki, in Yerevan earlier this year (Statement by the Armenian presidential press service, January 27, 2010).

Iran’s clerical regime has readily reciprocated the Armenian policy, not least because of its own complex relationship with Baku and Ankara. Both the Supreme Leader Ayatollah, Ali Khamenei, and President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, reaffirmed, in unusually strong terms, their commitment to enhancing Armenian-Iranian cooperation when they hosted Sargsyan in Tehran in April 2009 (EDM, April 29, 2009). Their talks reportedly provided fresh impetus to plans for building a pipeline to deliver Iranian oil to Armenia, a railroad linking the two neighboring nations, and a large hydro-electric station on the Arax River marking their border.

An inter-governmental commission on bilateral economic cooperation reported further progress towards the implementation of these ambitious projects, requiring billions of dollars in funding, after a regular session in Yerevan last January. It remained unclear, however, when precisely such work will commence, and who will finance it. Another important question emerging is whether the UN resolution has any bearing on those projects. The resolution adopted on June 9 calls for vigilance over transactions with any Iranian bank, including the central bank. It envisages punitive measures against those that are suspected of financing nuclear or missile programs. The resolution also blacklisted three business entities controlled by the Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines and 15 belonging to the Islamic Revolutionary Guards (Reuters, June 9).

Whether any of those entities have conducted, or plan to do business with Armenia is not yet known. Atomic energy and defense are not featured among its bilateral cooperation. Aram Safarian, a senior member of the Prosperous Armenia Party (a junior partner in Sargsyan’s governing coalition) insisted that Iran’s suspected nuclear program is “absolutely irrelevant” to its dealings with Armenia (www.armenialiberty, June 10).

Significantly for Yerevan, the tougher international sanctions do not seem to target the Iranian energy sector. Still, US Defense Secretary, Robert Gates, shortly before the Security Council vote, said that the resolution could allow individual states to block foreign firms expanding Tehran’s oil and gas exports. This might potentially apply to Armenia’s plans to drastically increase its imports of Iranian natural gas through a pipeline constructed in late 2008. The bulk of that gas is due to be converted into electricity at Armenian thermal-power plants, which will then export it to Iran.

The US Ambassador in Yerevan, Marie Yovanovitch, made clear on June 2 that the fourth round of sanctions against Tehran will affect Armenia indirectly, without elaborating (Regnum, June 2). US diplomats have occasionally voiced unease over deepening Armenian-Iranian ties in the past. In July 2007, for instance, the US Charge d’Affaires in Yerevan, Anthony Godfrey, warned that they might run counter to existing international sanctions against the Iranian regime. “We have expressed our concerns to the government of Armenia on all levels,” he said at the time (www.armenialiberty.org, July 20, 2007). The Armenian-Iranian relationship has grown since then, as have Washington’s concerns over that deepening partnership.

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3 thoughts on “Iran’s Nuclear Crisis Causes Unease in Armenia

  1. I hope Armenia starts showing some backbone just as Iran is doing by not bowing down to “pressure from Western powers, and the US in particular” and by standing up for what is right and support Iran publicly, as many other countries have done, instead of throwing Iran, its true friend, to the wolves. Armenia’s turn will come when the wolves are ready for new prey.

    Over 189 countries have sided with Iran and have supported Iran’s nuclear energy program. These are the true international community, not the handful of bullies who call themselves “international community”, wanting to control the world and its resources and establish puppet regimes throughout. Amazingly, media outlets and politicians in various countries never challenge this and they keep referring to these handful of bullies “international community”; the rest of the world countries do not count.

    IAEA has cleared Iran of any suspicions and has reported numerous times that its inspectors and surveillance equipment have found no evidence of diversion to military use. Iran’s nuclear enrichment is for peaceful purpose. Iran has bent backwards to accommodate IAEA inspections and has had more inspections than any other NPT member country. Iran is abiding by the rights provided under NPT. Members of NPT are obliged to provide other NPT signatories with the necessary enriched uranium but they have not met their obligations towards Iran. It is ironic that those bullying Iran have greatest stockpiles of nuclear and most lethal weapons which they have used on populations and are developing more nuclear weapons, have not allowed IAEA inspection of their facilities and have not implemented their duties under NPT.

    This is all reminiscent of genocidal sanction against Iraq, lies about Iraq’s nonexistent Weapons of Mass Destruction and then, “regime change”. If Iran were to stop enriching uranium altogether for any purpose, USA-Israel and allies would still accuse Iran of the same or will fabricate other excuses to bully Iran and to topple Iranian government. Their aim is “regime change” in Iran to exploit and subjugate.

    • Ibelin, this is all very-very interesting. Thanks for interesting perspectives. If you could write a blog-post I would happily post it here? The only facts which would need links, to make the post more trusworthy are the following statements:
      – Over 189 countries have sided with Iran and have supported Iran’s nuclear energy program.
      – Iran is abiding by the rights provided under NPT.
      – Their aim is “regime change” in Iran to exploit and subjugate.

  2. Observer,

    Thank you for asking me to write a blog-post. I am not into blogging but I occasionally post comments. There are many articles about this subject. I will list only a few here but I suspect it would still be a long post.

    Based on events, speeches, actions, IAEA and US NIE reports, Bills and Resolutions written by AIPAC and passed in US Congress, Israel’s influence of US politicians, and wars of aggressions founded on lies, and numerous articles I have read, I have been saying from the very beginning that all this fuss about Iran by USA-Israel and puppet allies has nothing to do with imagined nuclear weapons program in Iran but has everything to do with “regime change” – just as they did with Iraq and are doing in Afghanistan – and to keep Iran and all countries in that region under their boots. It has been proven that I was right about Iraq’s nonexistent WMD and all the other fabricated excuses for “regime change”. We know the history of UK and US with Iran – and others – every time they wanted their independence from West’s puppet dictators.

    Former CIA analyst Ray McGovern who still has inside intelligence connections agrees with me about “regime change”. USA allocated up to $400 million for covert operations intended to destabilize Iran’s government, meaning “regime change”. There have been a number of reports about this. Obama is pursuing same policies. McGovern also quotes other sources in his article here:
    http://www.counterpunch.org/mcgovern02262010.html
    A “Good” Terrorist Captured by Iran
    By RAY McGOVERN
    February 26 – 28, 2010
    —–
    According to IAEA, Iran is in compliance with NPT:
    http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=6655
    IAEA confirms the “peaceful nature of Iran’s nuclear activities”
    —–
    16 US intelligence agencies have said in NIE report that Iran is not perusing nuclear arms program. Here is a link to article by Philip Giraldi, a former CIA officer who has sources in the intelligence community. Excerpts from article follow:
    http://original.antiwar.com/giraldi/2010/04/28/papering-the-war-against-iran/
    Papering the War Against Iran
    by Philip Giraldi, April 29, 2010

    “it [NIE] had definitive evidence, high confidence, that the weapons program had been halted and no evidence whatsoever that it had been started up again.”
    […]
    In subsequent testimony before Congress and to the media, the Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair has essentially stood by the conclusions of the Iran NIE, confirming that Iran does not have a nuclear weapons program.
    […]
    The facts about Iran’s nuclear program are well known and they all indicate that there is no weapons development underway.
    […]
    As one senior intelligence analyst has concluded, all the evidence continues to indicate that Iran does not have a nuclear weapon and does not currently have a weapons program, but because the Iranian leadership could change direction at any time, without any debate, without any warning, it is a situation that can easily be exploited by those seeking war. It seems clear at this point that the friends of Israel in Congress and the media will seek to emphasize that possibility, not for the first time opening the door to conflict based on something that might happen, putting Iran in an impossible position where it has to prove a negative to avoid being attacked.

    More on NIE: http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=7722
    After The National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) on Iran: Let The Great Debate Begin!
    “Preemptive surgical strike by the intelligence community against the war party”
    by Muriel Mirak-Weissbach
    January 3, 2008

    http://www.infowars.com/is-iran-really-a-threat/
    Iran a Threat? I Mean, Really?
    By Ray McGovern
    April 27th, 2010
    —–
    This link contains the text of NPT:
    http://www.un.org/en/conf/npt/2005/npttreaty.html
    THE TREATY ON THE NON-PROLIFERATION
    OF NUCLEAR WEAPONS

    To summarize, NPT consists of

    1. Non-proliferation. Unlike some of the major nuclear powers, Iran is not proliferating nuclear weapons to other countries since it has no nuclear weapons.

    2. Disarmament. This applies to nuclear countries. Iran has no nuclear weapons to disarm.

    3. The right to peacefully use nuclear technology. Iran has the right to peaceful use of nuclear energy. No one has the right to deny Iran to develop, to research, production and use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes. (See Article IV 1. of NPT in above link.)

    The third point of NPT allows transfer of nuclear technology to NPT signatory member countries to develop nuclear energy as long as they are not developing nuclear weapons. Iran has demonstrated time and time again through IAEA inspections that its nuclear program is for peaceful purpose. 16 US intelligence services have similar finding. (See articles posted earlier.) Nuclear countries have obligation to share and to transfer nuclear technology and materials to Iran which they have not done.

    Iran has allowed IAEA inspections while other countries have not. Iran is abiding by the rules of NPT. Yet, the handful of bullies that call themselves “international community” are demanding that Iran not exercise its alienable right.
    —–
    About the 189 countries siding with Iran, I confused the number with recent UN Resolution votes and the countries that attended Iran’s Summit for “nuke-free world”, supporting Iran. Iran and neighboring countries have been pushing UN to pass a Resolution to have Israel, the only nuclear country in the Middle East, sign NPT but USA and allies had been ignoring the push. Finally, 189 countries supported it and voted on a watered down Resolution that Israel must sign NPT but Israel rejected it.
    http://www.presstv.ir/detail.aspx?id=128138&sectionid=351020202
    Israel must sign NPT, 189 countries say
    http://en.trend.az/regions/met/israel/1696234.html
    Israel rejects plea of 189 countries
    —–
    When Obama called for nuclear conference in New York and excluded Iran, Iran called its own Nuclear Summit, “Nuclear Energy for All, Nuclear Weapons for None”. More countries and experts participated in Tehran Summit than Obama’s conference. The presence of delegations and experts from 60 countries and several international groups proves that there are other and more voices that should be heard that support Iran and its peaceful nuclear energy program.

    http://english.farsnews.com/newstext.php?nn=8812260686
    Iran to Hold Conference on N. Disarmament in Spring
    “Foreign ministers, representatives and nuclear experts from 60 countries are due to participate in the event to discuss challenges on nuclear disarmament, countries’ commitments to the issue and the aftermaths of not destroying weapons of mass-destruction.”

    http://www.tehrantimes.com/index_View.asp?code=217782
    Tehran conference: Redouble efforts for nuclear disarmament
    “The two-day high profile nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation conference, with the motto of “Nuclear Energy For All, Nuclear Weapons For None”, was attended by many high-level officials and eminent experts from about 60 countries.”

    http://axisoflogic.com/artman/publish/Article_59418.shtml
    Nuclear Energy for All, Nuclear Weapons for None- Iran holds Nuclear Summit
    By RT News
    “It is very symbolic that there were 47 states in Washington plus three international organizations, and now there are about 60 countries participating in Tehran.”

    http://news.antiwar.com/2010/04/16/iran-kicks-off-nuclear-disarmament-summit/
    Iran Kicks Off Nuclear Disarmament Summit
    Conference to Call for Elimination of Nuclear Weapons
    by Jason Ditz, April 16, 2010
    “Starting off with a speech from Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the Iranian nuclear disarmament summit kicked off today with 14 foreign ministers, 10 other deputies, and an undisclosed number of other representatives. All told, some 60 nations and several international groups were represented.”

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