Sunday, June 11, 2006

Iranian nuclear fuel program: time to make a choice

08/06/2006 17:35

Pyotr Goncharov)

nuclear iran--Tehran has been given several weeks to scrutinize a "far-reaching" package of incentives for Iran to stop its nuclear fuel program. This is how the White House sees the situation.

Iran was facing a "moment of truth," said U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. "They need to make a choice. The international community needs to know if negotiation is a real option. ...Russia and China have signed on to the two paths."

She said that both paths agreed in Vienna, one leading Iran to international integration with incentives and another path toward isolation via various disincentives, were "quite robust."

Rice said that if Iran rejected the package, the international community would have to take the latter path.

"We need time to analyze the proposals, after which we will resume talks to attain a reasonable result," Ali Larijani, secretary of Iran's National Security Council, said after Tehran talks with Javier Solana, the European Union's foreign policy chief.

Solana brought the proposals of the international community and was expected to make it clear to the Iranian authorities that if these last initiatives are rejected, Iran would choose the path toward total isolation.

The paradoxical situation around Iran's nuclear fuel program developed several years ago. Russian expert Alexei Arbatov said all sides in the Iranian crisis were right, in their own way, yet the situation was irrevocably moving toward a conflict.

Iran as a signatory of the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) has the right to create its own nuclear technologies, and has declared as much. But the West has a number of questions to Iran on the expediency of some elements of its nuclear fuel program, which suggest that Iran wants to create nuclear weapons. The "Iranian knot" can be either untied by substantial mutual concessions, or cut.

However, the White House offered a mixed option combining incentives and sanctions.

Washington had adopted a harsh stand on the Iranian question but eventually agreed to certain concessions. In particular, it has accepted the Russian and Chinese proposal to omit from the draft resolution of the UN Security Council any reference to a provision in the UN Charter that permits the use of military force.

If Iran rejects the compromise offer, Washington will have a wide range of sanctions to choose from to push Iran into an economic, technological, financial and diplomatic isolation, allegedly with the wholehearted support of the international community.

On the other hand, sanctions were imposed on Iran back in 1979, when the shah was toppled. The probability of a partial or total isolation is a separate issue. What matters now is what Washington has offered to Tehran this time. The incentives should be stronger than the threatened sanctions, but maybe they are at least comparable?

When the international community discussed the package of sticks and carrots for Tehran, Flynt L. Leverett, a former high-ranking government official and currently a senior fellow of the Washington Brookings Institution (Foreign Policy Studies), who was in Moscow at the time, recalled the "Grand Bargain" negotiated by the Iranian government in 2003.

"The bargain, as spelled out by the Iranians, offered to accept a two-state solution for Israel and Palestine, to rein in Iranian support for what the United States considered terrorist groups, cooperation with the United States in Iraq and Afghanistan and against al-Qaida, and to join a comprehensive security agreement with the countries of the Persian Gulf. This would include an agreement to exclude nuclear weapons, which in effect suggested that Iran was prepared to suspend its nuclear program," UPI's Martin Walker wrote on May 8.

"In return, Iran wanted full diplomatic recognition from the United States, along with a suspension of U.S. sanctions and an agreement to drop plans for regime change and support for groups opposed to the Iranian regime."

Walker writes: "This was a formal offer, transmitted through the Swiss Embassy in Tehran ... and then followed up by a senior Iranian general in further talks with U.S. officials on the sidelines of a conference in Athens. The U.S. officials involved were Mr. and Mrs. Flynt Leverett."

The current president of Iran will demand that the 2003 package be augmented with the right to nuclear R&D, including in the area of uranium enrichment. This is of vital significance for Iran, and not only because it wants the bomb.

Joschka Fischer, former foreign minister of Germany, writes in an article parts of which were reprinted in the popular Russian daily Izvestia the other day: "The [Iranian] problem is rooted in the Iranian regime's aspiration to be the main Islamic and regional power on a par with the most powerful states of the world."

We can assume that this time the "bargain" will most probably be made. It may become the moment of truth for Tehran, and will belatedly show to Washington how that country should be dealt with.

President Bush apparently liked Tehran's initial reaction to the package formulated by the five UN Security Council permanent members and Germany. He said Tuesday: "It sounds like a positive step to me. ... I have said the United States will come and sit down at the table with them so long as they're willing to suspend their (uranium) enrichment in a verifiable way."

But this is not the end of the story. Tehran has proved more than once that the saying, "Politics is the art of the possible" is not the unassailable truth to it.

ссылки по теме
12:24 11/06/2006 Iran says some nuclear incentives unacceptable

18:19 10/06/2006 Washington's position on Iran unchanged - U.S. treasury secretary

13:43 19/04/2006 Russia aims for 25% of global nuclear fuel services market

19:18 28/03/2006 Russian company guarantees nuclear fuel deliveries to S.Korea

09:44 23/05/2006 Russia hopes for U.S. business support on nuclear fuel issue
© 2005 RIA Novosti
posted by ali ghannadi-irannuk


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