German MPs have returned to Berlin from a fact-finding mission in Iran. Two-day talks with political leaders in Tehran helped gauge the leadership's resistance towards suspending its uranium enrichment activities.
Defiant: Iranian President Ahmadinejad
The German MPs were told that Iran was by no means willing to abandon its nuclear program, as leaders there felt that the United States and the West as a whole had gambled away all trust in them by allegedly applying double standards.
The visiting German MPs met with high-ranking Iranian politicians to discuss the most sensitive issues relating to Tehran's nuclear ambitions.
During talks with the parliamentary president, the deputy foreign minister and many other leading political representatives, Ruprecht Polenz, the Christian Democrat head of Germany's parliamentary foreign affairs committee, urged his hosts to rethink their stance on the national nuclear program with uranium-enrichment activities now having gone into their second phase.
Cutti n g little ice
Polenz said the international community was expecting a sign of good will from Tehran to promote a speedy solution to the conflict and save the country from any potential sanctions in case it kept reacting so stubbornly.
Talking to the media back home in Berlin, Polenz acknowledged that his delegation's talks cut little ice with Iranian leaders, who like to see themselves engaged in a fight between themselves and the United States and other western nations.
The German MPs were told that history had shown that westerners were unreliable and unpredictable and had no real understanding of Iran's own security interests in a region full of tension. Polenz said it was important for the UN Security Council to keep demonstrating unity. He urged a "softer" resolution on Iran which would again have the backing of China and Russia too, saying that this meant a resolution not involving any sanctions yet.
Iranian media reports said Tehran had encouraged Germany to play a greater mediating role in the conflict, but Polenz said in Berlin that Germany wasn't in a position to do so.
"We are with the world, we are side by side with the US, Britain, France, China, India, Russia and all the others," he said. "Together we are trying to convince the Iranians to correct their nuclear program and give up their enrichment activities. What we can do, with regard to bilateral agreements, is convince Iran to change its policy."
A n ti-America n ism
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
Green party parliamentarian Marie-Luise Beck, who accompanied Polenz to Iran, was shocked about the level of anti-Americanism and said it was all the more important for the US administration to seek direct dialogue with Iranian leaders on a settlement of the conflict.
Coming back from Tehran, she said she'd realized that the task ahead of the Security Council was a daunting one.
"I had not realized how fixed this impression is that the US is against this country," she said. And if they give you this feeling, even if they're wrong in a rational sense, you have to take that feeling seriously."
Security co n cer n s
Iranian leaders have meanwhile voiced concern that there might be plots to attack their national football side during the World Cup in Germany, starting in June. They feel threatened by the best-known Iranian resistance group, the People's Mujaheddin, who are on the EU's list of terrorist organizations.
Security problems are also expected in connection with a possible visit of the Iranian president to Germany during the world cup.
But Bavaria's interior minister, Günter Beckstein, has already signaled that Mahmud Ahmadinedshad would not be welcome here after repeatedly denying the Holocaust and calling for Israel to be wiped off the map.