Austrian flag
Austrian flag Israel news photo: Austrian Foreign Ministry

Austria’s warm welcome this week of Iranian’s foreign minister, along with its increasing trade relations with the Islamic Republic, signal Iran’s widening axis that already stretches to South America. Indonesia, which hosts the world’s largest Muslim population, also has embraced Iran’s “strategic ties.”

Austria’s friendliness with Iran is even more significant because the European country is one of the rotating members of the United Nations Security Council. It has paid only lip service to sanctions against Iran, Simone Dinah Hartmann, director of Stop the Bomb Austria and co-editor of "Iran in the World System," wrote in The Wall Street Journal this week.

“To what degree Austria…would actually support tough sanctions is more than questionable,” she stated, noting that trade with Iran has flourished the past several years in contradiction to policies of other European nations to distant themselves from Tehran.

On Sunday, Austrian Foreign Minister Michael Spindelegger welcomed his Iranian counterpart, Manouchehr Mottaki, who delivered the opening speech at Tehran’s Holocaust denial conference in 2006.

Hartmann pointed out the bitter irony of Austria’s aligning itself with Iran, which vows to “wipe Israel off the map. “Austria prefers to present itself as Nazi Germany's first victim when in fact it was Hitler's —born and raised in Austria—first collaborator,” she wrote.

The United States, Britain and France objected to the Austrian welcome mat for the Iranian official, which featured a friendly reception including hoisting the Islamic Republic flag along that of Austria and the European Union.

“Vienna has a long tradition of appeasing the Islamic Republic,” according to Hartmann. A former foreign minister and former president Kurt Waldheim were the first Western officials in their positions to visit Tehran in the 1980s and 1991.

She also charged that several Austrian companies are suspected of working with front companies that are associated with the Iranian Revolutionary Guard.  "Bilateral business relations between Austria and Iran are excellent, but still expandable,” said the president of the Austrian Chamber of Commerce during a visit to Tehran last year. Austria was once described as the “gateway to the European Union” by an Iranian minister.


Indonesia also is in Iran’s sights. An Iranian deputy minister, Mohsen Pak-Ayeen, said says that ties with Indonesia “could serve as the main capital for planning strategic, deep and all-out ties," the Iranian Fars News Agency reported.

Jakarta as far back as 2006 labeled as ”lies” Western claims that Tehran is aiming for nuclear capability. Last week, an Indonesian official attending the observance of the 60th anniversary of Indonesia-Iran diplomatic relations at the National Museum said, "Indonesia believes that the Iranian nuclear project is for science and technology development.”