US isn't world's moral arbiter: Iranian FM

Date: 7/11/2011

By Jure Makovec | AFP – Mon, Jul 11, 2011

The United States cannot be the world's moral arbiter, a top Iranian official said here Monday, dismissing charges that Tehran is involved in smuggling weapons to insurgents in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The United States "has been making such statements for 30 years. We don't consider the US to be able to rule on what is right and what is wrong," Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi told a news conference in the Slovenian capital.

"The international community and nations do know that Iran usually meets its commitments."

Salehi was reacting to comments by US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta, who said in Baghdad earlier on Monday that pressure must be increased on Iran not to back insurgents.

"We are very concerned about Iran and weapons they're providing to extremists here in Iraq," Panetta said. "We lost a heck of a lot of Americans as a result. We can't allow this to continue."

Salehi is currently in Slovenia and is scheduled to travel to Austria on Tuesday where he will meet his Austrian counterpart Michael Spindelegger, as well as the head of the Vienna–based International Atomic Energy Agency, Yukiya Amano.

The IAEA has been investigating Tehran's controversial nuclear programme for many years, but is still not in a position to determine whether the activities are entirely peaceful as Iran claims.

The West and in particular the United States accuse the Islamic republic of seeking to build a nuclear bomb, a charge which Tehran denies.

Salehi, formerly head of Iran's Atomic Energy Organisation, insisted that relations between Iran and the UN nuclear watchdog were "very good".

"There are (IAEA) inspectors in Iran who regularly inspect (our) nuclear facilities. The number of inspections that have been carried out in Iran is the highest ever carried out in a country," Salehi said.


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