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Iranian Says Oil Brings The West To Persian Gulf

Iranian Researcher Says Oil Brings The West To Persian Gulf

by Derek Cheng

Mirmahoud Moosavi, senior research fellow for Iran's Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Control of the world’s energy supplies, not peace and democracy, was the reason for the presence of foreign military in the Persian Gulf, according to a senior researcher for Iran’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Mr Mirmahoud Moosavi spoke at Wellington’s Michael Fowler Centre on September 29 at a seminar: “The Relationship between New Zealand and the Islamic Republic of Iran”. The seminar was a joint venture between New Zealand’s Centre for Strategic Studies, the New Zealand Institute of International Affairs and the Iranian Embassy.

Mr Moosavi questioned whether foreign powers in neighbouring Iraq and Afghanistan wanted peace: “Maybe troubled waters are better for the big powers.” The reason for the American presence in the Persian Gulf was to dominate energy sources, he said. “The future of the industrial world relies on energy, and if the U.S. can control this region, they can control the world.” Iranian foreign policy was against U.S. hegemony, he added. Mohammed Hajiazizi, researcher for Iran’s Institute for Political and International Studies, also denounced unilateralism, adding that Iranian policy was to ensure the flow of oil to global markets.

He said stability in the Persian Gulf was directly related to global security, due to the region’s rich oil and gas reserves - 65 per cent of the world’s crude oil and 33 per cent of the world’s natural gas.

He outlined the key goals of Iranian foreign policy such as to “support the independence and territorial integrity of all the Persian gulf countries” and to “establish a collective, regional arrangement for security and cooperation”.

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Victoria University Professor Rod Alley speaking at the podium. Seated from left to right is Mohammed Hajiazizi, researcher for Iran’s Institute for Political and International Studies; Mirmahoud Moosavi; Peter Cozens, executive director of the strategic studies centre; Iranian Ambassador Kambiz Sheikh Hassani; Bruce Brown, chairman and New Zealand’s first ambassador to Iran; and Victoria University professor Jim Veitch.

Iranian Ambassador Kambiz Sheikh Hassani said America had not shown any desire to resolve differences with Iran. Despite Iran’s aid in fighting the Taliban in Afghanistan, who had killed Iranian diplomats, America pinpointed Iran as part of the “axis of evil”, he said.

Mr Moosavi said the presence of foreign forces was stunting Iran’s development. “[Iran has] had revolution, meaning to destroy everything and [re] build everything. To attract foreign investment, we need to have peace and stability in the region.” Despite regional conflict, Iran has enjoyed economic growth and higher university attendance, which Mr Moosavi said would help Iran towards an Islamic democracy.

“We have three million university students, where religious knowledge and other knowledge are being learnt together.” He said it was contentious whether religious knowledge alone could be the foundations of a democracy.

Great obstacles to democracy included a history of dictatorship and religious opposition. Although progress had been slow, voices for democracy are gaining in number and volume, Mr Moosavi said.

When asked to comment on Iran’s parliamentary elections this year, criticised as undemocratic, Mr Hassani said it was a setback, adding that there were loud objections from within Iran. Mr Moosavi addressed the use of nuclear energy in Iran, rejecting American accusations that Iran had a nuclear weapons programme.

“On the basis of our religion, on the basis of our policy, we are strongly against [the use of nuclear weapons].

“Some circles in international forums make a lot of noise against us. They say confidentially, ‘If you do this, we will stop this pressure, if you do that we will stop this pressure.’ It is a game.”

When asked if Iran may be the target of misinformation regarding weapons of mass destruction, Mr Moosavi said the unsuccessful campaign in Iraq may deter the U.S. from committing to another war.

Dozens of people attended the seminar. Other speakers were Bruce Brown, New Zealand’s first ambassador to Iran; Alan Williams, deputy secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade; Peter Cozens and Terence O’Brien from the strategic studies centre; Disarmament and Arms Control minister Marian Hobbs; and Victoria University professors Jim Veitch and Rod Alley.


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