Friday, June 23, 2006

Iran kicks back at U.S.

15:02 | 23/ 06/ 2006

commentator Pyotr Goncharov


-- The Iranian leader has again turned the tables, or rather the table of the G8 July summit in St. Petersburg.

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Tehran would give the answer to the offer made by Russia, the United States, China, Britain, France and Germany (the 5+1 states) not by June 29, as the EU, China and Russia hoped and the U.S. demanded, but in late August. The Iranian leader made this statement in an address to his voters in Hamadan, a city in western Iran, which has strengthened his standing in his home country.

On June 29, the G8 foreign ministers will meet in Moscow to discuss primarily the Iranian issue. They should determine if there are enough reasons to resume talks, or the Iranian nuclear dossier should be left to the UN Security Council. The foreign ministers must know Tehran's stand on the 5+1 offer to make a decision on keeping the dossier in the UN or returning it to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). Their decision is to be signed by the G8 leaders.

During their meeting in Vienna on June 1, the foreign ministers of the six states approved a package of offers designed to convince Iran to stop uranium enrichment. The six countries thought their offer was quite attractive to Iran, and hoped its acceptance would help resume talks.

What stands behind Ahmadinejad's statement? Surely not only the "heaps of ambiguities" in the offer, as Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said in Italy. Tehran is most likely dissatisfied with the provision on freezing enrichment as an obligatory condition for resuming talks.

The Iranian authorities said that the provision distorted the essence of the forthcoming talks. In fact, it needs the talks primarily to discuss freezing uranium enrichment in response to western concessions.

It appears that Tehran's announcement was a response to the statement by President Bush, who promised Iran "progressively stronger political and economic sanctions" if Tehran refused to verifiably suspend its uranium enrichment program.

It may also be that Moscow had unwittingly prompted Tehran's negative decision. Russia's First Deputy Foreign Minister Andrei Denisov, who led the Russian delegation to the session of the foreign ministers of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) in Baku, Azerbaijan, said Russia would not support UN Security Council decisions sanctioning the use of military force against Iran.

The same day, Russian president's aide Igor Shuvalov told journalists Russia would also insist on the inadmissibility of economic sanctions against Iran even if its stand clashed with the position of the other participants in the G8 summit in St. Petersburg.

If this supposition is correct, it means that Tehran has again let Russia down.

Tehran most likely used the complicated Washington-EU relations over Iran (the White House wants Europe's undivided support over the Iranian nuclear fuel issue) to force its rules of the game on the partners.

And yet, why did the Tehran authorities come to this decision, especially if their initial reaction to the 5+1 offer was positive?

Some newspapers claim that Iran's spiritual leader Ayatollah Khamenei was initially against the six countries' offer, which he described as "weak and disappointing." Tehran may again use the tactic which Khamenei calls "subtle diplomacy," the art of acting in international relations in such a way as to protect and strengthen national interests to the utmost level, as Iranian journalist Parviz Esmaeili put it.

On the other hand, many analysts say Iran's political establishment was divided over the nuclear fuel program and the six countries' offer. The majority would like to accept the right to limited enrichment, but this group does not include Ayatollah Khamenei or President Ahmadinejad, who reject all and any restrictions. If this is true, this imbalance in the Iranian leadership is the main reason for postponing the answer until the end of August.

The world can wait for another "moment of truth" regarding Iran, but will Iran benefit or suffer from the delay? Events can now take any turn, including some that will run counter to the Russian and Chinese opinion.
source:ria novosti
posted by ali ghannadi-irannuk

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