Iran’s most notable foreign policy developments over the past week were as follows:
- Khamenei on Iran-P5+1 nuclear talks and sanctions; In an annual meeting with the members of the Assembly of Experts (an elected clerical body which has the power to appoint and dismiss the supreme leader) on Thursday, March 7, Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei downplayed the apparently shifting Western approach to Iran’s nuclear issue in the recent Almaty talks, describing it as “merely a slight acknowledgement of part of Iran’s rights” and far short of being referred to as a concession. Noting the West’s track record of reneging on its promises toward Iran, Ayatollah Khamenei stated that Western sincerity on Iran’s nuclear issue remains to be tested in the upcoming talks. On another note, Ayatollah Khamenei acknowledged that Iran’s economic woes are in part due to Western economic sanctions and partly are the consequences of particular domestic economic policies and management. Khamenei, however, characterized Iran’s economic problems as manageable and ironically as opportunities for home-grown development, innovation and self-reliance.
- Public condemnation of terrorist attacks against Pakistani Shi'ites builds up in Iran; Iranian seminary students and clerics held public protests on Saturday , March 9, in the holy city of Qom and other cities, including Tehran, against the escalation of terrorist attacks against Shiites in Pakistan. In a related development, the head of the National Security and Foreign Policy Committee of the Iranian Parliament, Allaeddin Boroujerdi, also called for serious action by the Pakistani Intelligence Service to put an end to the continuing violence against Shiites in Pakistan. Boroujerdi also called on the UN Security Council to take action on the terrorist attacks against Shiites in Pakistan. On Sunday, March 10, Iran’s parliament speaker Ali Larijani also lent his weight to the public condemnation of terrorist attacks against Shiites in Pakistan and called on the Pakistani government to take necessary actions to end the escalating sectarian bloodshed in Pakistan.
- Iran mourns the demise of anti-imperialist Chavez; The Iranian cabinet declared a national day of mourning on Wednesday, March 6, on the occasion of the demise of the anti-imperialist Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez. The Iranian president Mahmood Ahmadinejad eulogized Chavez as a martyred champion of freedom and justice in the world and a bastion of resistance against world imperialism. President Ahmadinejad attended the funeral ceremony of Chavez held in Caracas. The late Venezuelan president had paid several visits to Iran during the tenures of both former president Mohammad Khatami as well as the current president Mahmood Ahmadinejad and had nurtured close ties between the two countries.