Iran’s elite army wary of growing links with West

Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guard has warned of the dangers of dealing with US officials, ahead of expected diplomatic contacts, underlining the internal challenges President Hassan Rohani could face to improve ties with the West.

By (Reuters)

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Published: Mon 23 Sep 2013, 11:41 PM

Last updated: Tue 7 Apr 2015, 6:07 PM

Rohani is expected to pursue a charm offensive in the coming week while in New York for the UN General Assembly in order to set the right tone for further nuclear talks with world powers which he hopes will bring relief from sanctions, according to diplomats and analysts.

The new Iranian president said on Sunday that Tehran was ready for negotiations with Western powers provided they set no pre-conditions. He also said the world needed to accept Iran’s right to enrich uranium.

The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) military force was established to safeguard Iran’s revolution in 1979 and has since influenced political, social and economic affairs.

“Historical experiences make it necessary for the diplomatic apparatus of our country to carefully and sceptically monitor the behaviour of White House officials so that the righteous demands of our nation are recognised and respected by those who favour interaction,” an IRGC statement said.

It added the IRGC would support initiatives that were in line with national interests and strategies set forth by Iran’s theocratic leader and highest authority, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

The United States and its allies have imposed tough economic sanctions on Iran over suspicions Tehran intends to develop a nuclear capability. Iran says the programme is purely peaceful.

The IRGC statement, published by Iran’s Tasnim news agency on Saturday and marking the 33rd anniversary of the start of the Iran-Iraq war, was made days after Khamenei and Rohani told the security hardliners to stay out of politics, in effect instructing them not to scupper the new centrist government’s attempt to resolve the nuclear dispute.

The 125,000-strong IRGC has a military budget that is said to dwarf that of the regular armed forces. Its top commanders are handpicked by Khamenei but its clout also derives from former members who have occupied positions of influence in business, parliament and across provincial government.

Rohani spoke about negotiations with the West when addressing the military parade on Sunday to commemorate the annual “Sacred Defence Week”.



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