There is nothing more important in defining the framework for our nuclear activities than the Leader's fatwa.” Iran’s Foreign Ministry Spokesman Ramin MehmanparastIran's Foreign Ministry Spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast says the fatwa (religious decree) issued by Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei on the prohibition of nuclear weapons is binding for Iran. “There is nothing more important in defining the framework for our nuclear activities than the Leader's fatwa,” Mehmanparast said during his weekly press conference on Tuesday. When the Leader expresses his religious viewpoint in the form of a fatwa, it will be mandatory for us to act according to it, he added. On February 22, 2012, Ayatollah Khamenei said the Islamic Republic considers the pursuit and possession of nuclear weapons “a grave sin” from every logical, religious and theoretical standpoint. Mehmanparast concluded, “This fatwa is our operational instruction.” The United States, Israel and some of their allies have repeatedly accused Iran of pursuing non-civilian objectives in its nuclear energy program. Iran argues that as a committed signatory to the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and a member of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), it is entitled to develop and acquire nuclear technology for peaceful purposes. Iran-P5+1 talks Referring to the talks between Iran and the P5+1 (Britain, China, France, Russia, and the US plus Germany), Mehmanparast said both sides had reached an agreement on the date of the negotiations. The Iranian official added that the agreement had been reached during a phone conversation between EU's Deputy Secretary General for Political Affairs Helga Schmid and Undersecretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council Ali Baqeri on Monday. The Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman, however, did not mention the date of the next round of the talks. “The deputy of [EU foreign policy chief] Mrs. [Catherine] Ashton is expected to inform us of the P5+1 response about the venue of the talks so that we could resume the negotiations,” he added. Iran and the P5+1 have held several rounds of multifaceted talks mainly over Iran's nuclear energy program. Terrorist attacks in Pakistan Mehmanparast also called on the Pakistani government to make greater efforts in combating terrorism.
“Unfortunately, terrorist attacks in regional countries have endangered the lives of innocent people and we expect Pakistan’s government to expend more effort in fighting terrorism,” he said.On January 10, nearly 130 people, including Shia Muslims, were killed and many others injured in a wave of deadly attacks targeting both Pakistani security guards and civilians in the country. “All regional countries should cooperate to uproot this ominous phenomenon,” Mehmanparast added. “Terrorism is the result of the interference of foreign countries in the region; they created this ominous phenomenon in order to achieve their political objectives,” Mehmanparast said, adding that the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) can play a major role in mobilizing regional countries for the fight against acts of terror. The crisis in Mali Commenting on the crisis in Mali, the Mehmanparast said, “Our foreign policy is based on respecting the territorial integrity of countries,” adding that foreign countries must cease their support for armed groups that threaten the stability and security of countries. Chaos broke out in the West African country after Malian President Amadou Toumani Toure was toppled in a military coup on March 22, 2012. The coup leaders said they had mounted the coup in response to the government's inability to contain the Tuareg rebellion in the north of the country, which had been going on for two months. French President Francois Hollande announced on Friday that his country had launched a military intervention in its former colony to fight against the rebels. Mehmanparast added, “We believe security and stability must be established, the territorial integrity of countries must be respected and any popular demand must be met through democratic procedures.” The unrest in Syria Referring to the ongoing unrest in Syria, the Iranian official said, “We should all make efforts and continue consultations in order to restore peace in Syria.” “Those countries that support violent means and seek to escalate conflicts and are dispatching arms to Syria should know that this approach is futile.” Mehmanparast stressed that the rights of the Syrian people must be respected through holding fair elections, adding that those who are against elections in Syria fear its results and are trying to undermine the prospects of such polls by increasing violence in the Arab country. The Iranian official said that “defending the rights of the people in the region” is a principle for the Islamic Republic. He further demanded an end to the violence in the Arab country to protect the lives of the Syrians and the prevention of any foreign meddling in the Arab country. Syria has been experiencing unrest since March 2011, and many people, including large numbers of security forces, have been killed in the turmoil. The Syrian government says the chaos is being orchestrated from outside the country, and there are reports that a very large number of the militants are foreign nationals. US anti-Iran allegations about Yemen The Iranian official dismissed as “baseless” the US claims about Iran’s interference in Yemen. “These baseless and unfounded remarks are aimed at leveling accusations at our country and creating a rift among regional countries,” Mehmanparast said. US Ambassador to Yemen Gerald Feierstein on Sunday accused Iran of interfering in Yemen’s domestic affairs. Mehmanparast noted, “We should remind the US envoy to Yemen that the movement by the people in the region and the wave of the Islamic Awakening have been the result of the Americans’ long-term support for regional dictators that has caused the regional nations’ hatred of the policies of the US officials.” He lashed out at the United States for seeking to interfere in the internal affairs of the regional nations, urging Washington and its allies not to interfere in the region and allow the people to determine their own fate. MYA/YH/HMV/HJL