See also:
» 10.12.2010 - Djibouti sees Eritrea President as "lunatic"
» 28.06.2010 - Eritrea still far from sanctions' lift
» 08.06.2010 - Djibouti-Eritrea border dispute towards solution
» 23.04.2010 - Eritrea desperate to undo UN sanctions
» 10.08.2009 - Eritrea dismiss insurgents support allegations as smear campaign
» 14.07.2009 - Eritrea not backing militancy – Presidency
» 06.07.2009 - AU calls for Eritrea sanctions
» 27.05.2009 - Eritrea rejects release of Swedish journalist

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Eritrea supports Iran's nuclear programme

afrol News, 6 June - Eritrea's President Isaias Afewerqi continues on his anti-Western crusade. Receiving Iran's new ambassador to Asmara, the Eritrean leader said he fully supported Iran's controversial nuclear programme, noting that the US was in no position to criticise Iran after having used nuclear arms against other nations.

According to a statement released by Iran's Foreign Ministry, last weeks presentation of credentials by Iran's new Ambassador, Reza Ameri, to President Afewerqi had been a pleasant event. The new Iranian non-resident Ambassador was told that "Iran's nuclear achievement is source of pride for us and we support the country's stand in this regard."

Iran's "nuclear achievement" is a highly controversial issue in international politics as the fundamentalist regime in Tehran refuses to adhere to transparency demands by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), disrespecting international conventions. This has led to a widespread suspicion that Iran's nuclear programme not is exclusively for peaceful use but may include plans to build an atomic bomb.

President Afewerqi, according to the Iranian government, nevertheless ridiculed IAEA's and Western nations' demands Iran stop suspicious parts of its nuclear programme in accordance with international treaties. "The US, which possesses nuclear weapons and have used it against other nations, is not authorised to specify who should or should not take advantage of nuclear technology," Mr Afewerqi was quoted as saying.

"Iran's capability to produce nuclear energy is its legal and undeniable rights," President Afewerqi allegedly said, adding, "If there should exist [nuclear] confinement, it should include countries like the US, and not Iran which intends to make a peaceful use of the nuclear energy."

Iran has on several occasions been urged by an unanimous UN Security Council to increase transparency of its nuclear programme and stop the most controversial parts of the programme. These Security Council resolutions have also been supported by non-Western members such as China, Russia and South Africa. Even the African Union (AU) and Arab League have urged Iran to stand by its international obligations.

Eritrea lately has been rapidly drifting away from mainstream diplomacy, heading towards a small club of nations opposing anything their - mostly autocratic - leaders define as "Western interests". Washington calls them "pariah nations", and the club of very different states has started to unite diplomatic efforts and is trying to strengthen trade ties. The club, in addition to Eritrea and Iran, includes nations such as Zimbabwe, Venezuela, Cuba, Belarus, Burma and North Korea. Countries like The Gambia, Sudan and Libya from time to time join in with support.

Not surprisingly, Eritrea's increasingly autocratic leader Afewerqi has started improving relations with many of these "pariah" nations since he branded the US as arch-enemy in November last year. Just one month later, he asked the Tehran government to send an ambassador and deepen ties. Also relations with Sudan, Libya, Belarus and Cuba have gradually deepened during the last two years.

President Afewerqi, according to a statement by the Asmara Ministry of Information released Thursday last week, had stated that the appointment of an Iranian ambassador would now "lay the groundwork for the development of Eritrean-Iranian relations."

The Iranian Ambassador, on his part, was quoted as saying that the appointment of ambassadors by both sides "represents a major step in the strengthening of diplomatic relations between the two countries." He further had indicated "Iran's readiness to cooperate with Eritrea in infrastructure and trade."

While Iran and Eritrea now formally have deepened their ties and defined future fields of cooperation, few expect this cooperation to become of major real importance, rather of symbolic importance. None of the Eritrea's new partners has economic means to launch larger projects or investments in the poor Horn of Africa country. Meanwhile, most Western donors and investors are pulling out of Eritrea.

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