Iranian Ambassador to Thailand Majid Bizmark discusses Iran's plans in Asia with the Post's George McLeod.
Iranian ambassador to Thailand Majid Bizmark says his country is looking East.
Iran says it is pushing for stronger economic political and economic ties with Asia through the Look East policy. Can you say a bit about Look East?
The "Look East" policy devised by Iran in recent years is ... [to increase] trade and economic ties with Asia, along with political interactions. Iran is also keen to foster her participation with the Asian community through ASEAN in different fields including energy, tourism and investment.
Nowadays, more than 60 percent of Iranian trade is with Asians.
Iran is under pressure by Western-led trade sanctions. Is Look East an escape route from the sanctions?
It is not the case. The financial sanctions are not working at all. In fact, the sanctions have helped us to stand on our own feet. The will of the Iranian nation is too powerful to be affected by those hollow, obsolete methods. You have seen we have made giant leaps in technology and were able to launch a satellite. The sanctions haven't been effective. Our people have benefited by looking to the local economy. As well, we have had good experiences dealing with Asian countries that we consider are our true friends.
Do you believe Iranian-US relations will improve with the more moderate Obama administration?
The negative approach of the [Bush] administration was criticised and condemned, not only in the Middle East but also widely around the world. They made the mistake of interfering in the internal affairs of other countries. With the new administration, we would like to see practical steps for the changes they have claimed. They say they want change; now we are waiting for that to happen. There has been a lot of propaganda, but we are waiting to see what they do.
The recent International Atomic Energy Agency report expressed concerns about Iran's nuclear program. Do you have any response to the findings?
Iran believes in the non-questionable right of all nations to use peaceful nuclear power. Unfortunately, some monopolist powers, as a routine behaviour against developing nations, have put tremendous pressure on Iran to derail it from enjoying her rights to access new technologies.
We are a member of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, but those that are not members are free to develop a military nuclear program, such as the Zionist regime [Israel]. That's a double standard that the world is witnessing.
The scarcity of fossil fuel, huge demand for abundant electricity ... as well as environmental considerations have forced Iran to strive for renewable energy sources including solar, wind, hydro and nuclear power.
Now Iran's annual electricity demand is growing by 8 percent and should be addressed in an economical and more environmentally friendly way. We need nuclear energy for the development of our economy.
This program isn't for military purposes - in fact it's against our religion [to have nuclear weapons].
Why should we stop our peaceful activities when it is the right of our people? They [Western powers] have no right to use this as a political issue.