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Will Iran And UK Resume Diplomatic Relations?

Will Iran And UK Resume Diplomatic Relations?

In another context, it might simply seem like diplomatic business-as-usual. But in Tehran, with potential game-changing nuclear talks in the balance, visits by the Austrian Foreign Minister and a key official of the British Foreign Office are being viewed as further proof that Iran want to move toward rapprochement with the West.

In particular, the visit of Sir Simon Gass, a former ambassador to Iran and the director of political affairs at the British Foreign Office, prompted a wave of reactions from the Tehran press since the two countries currently don't have full diplomatic relations. Britain closed its Tehran embassy in November 2011 after a mob stormed the premises following Britain's support for tougher sanctions on Iran over its nuclear program. The recent visit, however, was seen as a step towards the restoration of full diplomatic ties.

Marzieh Afkham, Iran's Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, said on April 29 that the visit showed that "Tehran and London are gradually progressing toward better ties," Iran's Mehr agency reported. An editorial that same day in the progressive daily newspaper Arman observed that, for historical reasons, ties between Iran and Britain were more "sensitive" than with other European countries. This implicitly referred to the British Empire's preponderant influence in Iran through the 19th and 20th centuries, particularly in the first half of the 20th century.

The editorial observed that the two states "must maintain their relations" given their respective importance in the region, while Britain should not expect to have "an active presence in the Middle East without relations with Tehran."

Tehran-based academic Ali Khorram was also quoted in Arman on April 30, saying that Britain was no longer the "unreal monster" Iranians had imagined — a vision that led to "misunderstandings" in past diplomatic relations. Like other former colonial powers, Britain's "challenge is to survive," Khorram wrote, and Iranians should consider the "interests and security" benefits that ties with Britain can create. Two of these benefits, Khorram said, are its technological influence and its permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council.

Meanwhile, Iran was continuing its collaboration with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) through technical inspections, following the deal signed in November 2013 that clarified its nuclear program. Behruz Kamalvandi, a spokesman for the Iranian Atomic Energy Organization, told the Iranian's Students' News Agency (ISNA) this week that inspectors had visited a "laser center" in the previous weeks, and were to visit a mine and a factory within the next days, the newspaper Jomhuri-e Eslami reported.

Kamalvandi said Iran would provide information on seven sites or areas required by the IAEA within the next two weeks, as part of the "second phase" of its cooperation with the Agency.

Ahmad Shayegan

photo of Iranian embassy in London (wikipedia)

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Life On "Mars": With The Teams Simulating Space Missions Under A Dome

A niche research community plays out what existence might be like on, or en route to, another planet.

Photo of a person in a space suit walking toward the ​Mars Desert Research Station near Hanksville, Utah

At the Mars Desert Research Station near Hanksville, Utah

Sarah Scoles

In November 2022, Tara Sweeney’s plane landed on Thwaites Glacier, a 74,000-square-mile mass of frozen water in West Antarctica. She arrived with an international research team to study the glacier’s geology and ice fabric, and how its ice melt might contribute to sea level rise. But while near Earth’s southernmost point, Sweeney kept thinking about the moon.

“It felt every bit of what I think it will feel like being a space explorer,” said Sweeney, a former Air Force officer who’s now working on a doctorate in lunar geology at the University of Texas at El Paso. “You have all of these resources, and you get to be the one to go out and do the exploring and do the science. And that was really spectacular.”

That similarity is why space scientists study the physiology and psychology of people living in Antarctic and other remote outposts: For around 25 years, people have played out what existence might be like on, or en route to, another world. Polar explorers are, in a way, analogous to astronauts who land on alien planets. And while Sweeney wasn’t technically on an “analog astronaut” mission — her primary objective being the geological exploration of Earth — her days played out much the same as a space explorer’s might.

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