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Son of Iranian Nukes Worries

11/05/2003

The unfolding saga of Iran's hypothetical or real bid to acquire nuclear weapons continues. Iran, a poor a poor country with over 9% of the world's oil reserves and over 15% of the world's gas reserves claims it is investing in nuclear reactors because it is worried about fossil fuel depletion and pollution. Some people might be skeptical of those claims, but many were surprised when Iran filed the additional informatin the IAEA had requested a week ahead of schedule. At the same time, Iran announced it was freezing work on upgrading of uranium, which was the major concern that had led to fears it was building the bomb. Iran also agreed to comply with demands for snap inspections.

Is it enough? Amir Taheri says "no" in the New York Post, and IAEA Chairman Mohamed El-Baradei
says that Iran is apparently in violation of guidlines.

Ami Isseroff

"IRAN'S NUKE GAMBIT"
AMIR TAHERI
NEW YORK POST

http://www.benadorassociates.com/article/657
http://www.nypost.com/postopinion/opedcolumnists/9956.htm

IRAN'S NUKE GAMBIT
By AMIR TAHERI
November 5, 2003 -- REMEMBER you read it here first. Iran is now on course to force its way into the
nuclear club within the next two to three years. When it does, it will owe part of its success to a
European Union diplomatic maneuver that has spared Iran the prospect of direct confrontation over
its illicit nuclear program with the international community.

The maneuver, which led to the signature of a memorandum between the Islamic republic and three EU
members in October, appears to have defused the latest crisis.

As things stand, it is almost certain that the International Atomic Energy Agency will soft-pedal
the procedure that could have led to a confrontation between Tehran and the United Nations over
Iran's alleged pursuit of nuclear weapons.

The European Union has exacted no more than a vague promise from the leadership in Tehran to
temporarily halt a secret project to enrich uranium and produce plutonium.

The temporary halt, if it does materialize, may be linked more to Iranian domestic politics than to
a sudden desire on the part of the Khomeinist regime to honor the terms of the Nuclear
Non-Proliferation Treaty.
Iran is already in campaign mode in anticipation of the general election next March. A
foreign-policy crisis at this time could upset the the establishment, which appears determined to
purge the so-called reformist faction and impose a "Chinese-style" system of political repression
and economic opening.

The establishment feared that the nuclear issue might force the European Union to line up behind the
tougher Iran policy preached by the Bush administration.

Playing the European card against Washington is a tried and true tactic of the Khomeinist regime.
Tehran used it in the 1980s by seizing and then liberating European hostages in exchange for pledges
by the European powers not to join U.S.-imposed sanctions against Iran. In the 1990s, Tehran used
the same tactic by tempting European oil companies with mouth-watering oil and gas contracts.

One other factor may have contributed to Tehran's decision to play the European card again. The
selection of Shirin Ebadi, an Iranian human-rights lawyer, as this year's Nobel Peace laureate is
seen in Tehran as a signal that Europe's "soft powers" are ready to help provide a "soft" face for
the opposition against the Khomeinist regime. Such an opposition could make it easier for the
European powers to win the support of their own public for a policy of regime-change in Tehran.

Thus the piece of paper that Tehran has just signed with three European foreign ministers is
unlikely to affect the Khomeinist regime's strategy of building an arsenal of nuclear weapons within
the next two to three years.
There is little doubt that the Europeans know this. So, why did the three European wise men,
traveling west to east, agree to get the Khomeinist regime off the hook?

Each of the three had his reason:

* France's Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin is desperately looking for any opportunity to show
that Paris still has a say in Middle East politics. He would love to be able to claim that his "soft
power" diplomacy did in Iran what American "hard power" tried to do against Saddam Hussein in Iraq -
and, according to de Villepin, failed.

* German Foreign Minister Joshcka Fischer had a slightly different motive. While continuing his
country's close alliance with France, Fischer is also anxious to avoid a situation in which Berlin
finds itself alone with Paris. The presence of the British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw in the trio
helps Fischer avoid such a situation. At the same time Fischer would be able to tell the German
public that the Schroeder government is still capable of playing a role in diffusing regional
crises.

Fischer and de Villepin also hope to see a change of occupant at the White House in 2005.

* Straw's motives are equally complicated. In his heart of hearts, he knows that the only language
that the Khomienists understand and respect is force. But he also knows that Tony Blair's government
is passing through its worst crisis since it came to power in '97.

At a moment of crisis over Iran, Blair might find himself facing a choice he wishes to avoid:
parting ways with the Americans or risking a political revolt within his Cabinet.

All this means is that the Khomeinist regime may well get yet another chance to have its cake and
eat it, too. According to Hassan Ruhani, a mullah who speaks for the High Council of National
Security in Tehran, Iran is determined to dot itself with "the entire range of nuclear science and
technology at all levels."

Iran's nuclear program started in 1956. The strategic decision to develop nuclear weapons was taken
in 1989. The regime has spent an estimated $12 billion on all aspects of this ambitious program so
far. It is not something that Tehran will give up after a session of tea and sympathy with the EU
trio.

E-mail: amirtaheri @benadorassociates.com

IAEA finds new nuclear safeguard breaches in Iran
Tue Nov 4,12:29 PM ET

http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&u=/afp/20031104/wl_mideast_afp/iran_nuclear_iaea_031104172958

VIENNA (AFP) - The UN nuclear watchdog, the IAEA, will
report at a key meeting later this month that Iran has
failed to honor some international nuclear safeguards,
the director was quoted as saying.

International Atomic Energy Agency chief Mohamed
ElBaradei told the Spanish newspaper El Pais that new
breaches will be detailed in a report the IAEA is to
present to its board of governors on November 20.

"We reported breaches in the past and there will be
new ones in this upcoming report," ElBaradei was
quoted as saying by his spokesman Mark Gwozdecky.

It was the first confirmation by the IAEA that new
Iranian information, filed ahead of an October 31
deadline for Iran to prove it is not developing
nuclear weapons, showed Iranian failures in honoring
nuclear safeguards agreements.

Tehran faces the possibility the IAEA will judge it to
be in non-compliance with the nuclear
Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and send the issue to
the UN Security Council, which could then impose
sanctions.

The United States accuses Iran of secretly working to
manufacture highly enriched uranium, which can be used
to make atomic bombs, and says Tehran should be judged
in non-compliance.

But the IAEA board has so far avoided this step,
giving Iran the last-chance deadline to provide full
disclosure on its nuclear program.

Ali Akbar Salehi, Iran's ambassador to the IAEA, said
October 24 that there were disclosures in the report
of "what could be considered failures" to adhere to
the safeguards regime of the NPT, of which Iran is a
signatory.

He said these were "in the same line" as failures by
Iran the IAEA had listed in a report in June.

Salehi said the new failures involved "some lab
tests". He did not provide details.

But he said: "It is 100-percent clear that Iran has
never been involved in anything that would indicate it
was involved in a nuclear weapons program."

ElBaradei said verifying the Iranian information would
take time.

"November 20 is an important milestone but we won't be
able to finish our work by then. We will need a few
more months, particularly with regard to very complex
investigations such as the source" of traces of highly
enriched uranium found by IAEA inspectors in Iran,
ElBaradei said.

Iran claims the uranium came from contamination of
equipment it had bought abroad and not from producing
the material, as the United States charges.

ElBaradei said a problem in verifying the Iranian
claims is that "there is more than one country which
has supplied Iran with centrifuges" used in enriching
uranium.

Salehi has said Iran does not know where the equipment
came from since it was bought on the black market when
Tehran had to be "discreet" as it was developing its
nuclear program in the face of international
sanctions.

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Original text copyright by the author and MidEastWeb for Coexistence, RA. Posted at MidEastWeb Middle East Web Log at http://www.mideastweb.org/log/archives/00000101.htm where your intelligent and constructive comments are welcome. Distributed by MEW Newslist. Subscribe by e-mail to mew-subscribe@yahoogroups.com. Please forward by email with this notice and link to and cite this article. Other uses by permission.

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