YEREVAN (RFE/RL)–Armenia said on Thursday that it is closely monitoring the intensifying standoff between Iran and world powers and hoping for its “peaceful” resolution.
“Armenia is attentively following the developments unfolding over Iran’s nuclear program and believes that all contentious issues must be resolved by means of peaceful negotiations,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Tigran Balayan said in a carefully worded and short statement to the Armenpress news agency.
“We hope that further efforts by Iran and the international community will lead to mutually acceptable solutions,” he said.
As was the case during previous upsurges of tension between the Islamic Republic and the West, official Yerevan avoided criticizing Tehran for the latest crisis or urging it not to defy the international community. Nor did it comment on implications of harsher U.N. sanctions against Iran for Armenia’s close political and especially economic relations with its big Muslim neighbor.
A resolution adopted by the U.N. Security Council on Wednesday called for measures against new Iranian banks abroad if a connection to the nuclear or missile programs is suspected, as well as vigilance over transactions with any Iranian bank, including the central bank. It also expanded a U.N. arms embargo against Tehran and blacklisted about two dozen Iranian business entities.
According to Reuters, Western diplomats believe that the resolution gives the EU, United States and allies a legal basis to impose their own much tougher measures. U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said shortly before the U.N. vote that the resolution could clear a way for individual states and the EU to block foreign firms expanding Tehran’s oil and gas exports and impose other curbs on business activity.
Yet significantly for Armenia, the U.N. resolution spares Iran’s energy sector. Energy is the main area of growing Armenian-Iranian economic cooperation.
Armenia began importing Iranian natural gas through a newly built pipeline in May 2009 and is planning more multimillion-dollar energy projects with Iran. Those include the construction of a pipeline to deliver Iranian petrol to Armenia and a hydro-electric station on the Arax river marking Armenian-Iranian border.