Sunday, April 6, 2008

Iran Spokesman Remarks on Three Islands

Iranian Government Spokesman Qolam Hossein Elham told reporters in a Tehran press conference on Saturday that Iran’s claim over the three islands of Greater and Lesser Tunbs and Abu Musa is supported by legal and authentic documents proving the country’s ownership. Elham added that those documents have been put at “the disposal” of the United Nations [IRNA, 5 April].

Press TV reported that Iranian Ambassador to the UN Mohammad Khazaei had provided the UN with historical and legal documents proving Iran’s sovereignty over the islands.

Press TV, also covering Elham’s press conference, quoted the government spokesman as saying that, “We welcome any talks that would prove Iran's undisputed sovereignty over the Persian Gulf islands of Greater and Lesser Tunbs and Abu Musa” [Press TV, 5 April].

Press TV added that in the letter submitted to the UN by the Iranian ambassador, Iran has called for “talks between Iranian and the UAE officials to clear all misunderstanding over the 1971 agreement.”

Is the Iranian government inviting UN-sponsored talks between Iran and UAE on the dispute over the three islands? If the reports are correct, this would be a major departure in Iranian policy regarding the three islands. Iran’s policy so far has been that the three islands are inseparable part of Iran and their ownership is not open to discussion or negotiations.

As reviewed in April 1 post here, the shah renounced Iran’s claims over Bahrain when the island became part of the Federation of Arab Emirates (FAE). In return, the FAE (which included today’s UAE) accepted Iran’s sovereignty over the three islands. In 1971, Bahrain reneged on its membership at FAE and the newly-formed UAE reneged on recognition of Iran’s sovereignty over the islands. Shah was checkmated. He approved Bahrain’s independence, but did not get the UAE recognition of Iran’s sovereignty over the islands. He occupied them.

Facing the claim by UAE over the three islands, any agreement by the shah’s government to recognize Bahrain in return for the three islands could now be challenged by Tehran. The Bahrain and the Trucial States, the predecessor of UAE, did not negotiate with the shah in good faith and the results of those negotiations could now be considered null and void.

No comments: