Monday, 12 February 2007

The Iran nuke story continues...

Not only is there drama between the West and Iran over Iraq, but also over Iran's nuclear program (Wikipedia). This little dance has been going on for years, with the main parties being the United States, United Kingdom, and the rest of the UN Security Council, Germany, the UN itself (IAEA), and, of course, on the other side of the room, Iran. Developments in the news on the Iranian program and the western response have come and gone over the years, but there is some new news now...

Washington Post:

Facing the prospect of broader international sanctions, Iran's president and national security chief on Sunday offered to resume negotiations over their country's nuclear program and eased up on some of the contentious rhetoric of the past, including threats to destroy Israel.

In Munich, Ali Larijani, Iran's top nuclear negotiator, briefly met with European diplomats for the first time since talks collapsed in September and said Iran was willing to return to formal discussions.

He also said his country had "no intention of aggression against any country," adding that Iran "posed no threat to Israel" in particular, despite past vows from Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to wipe Israel "off the map."

Meanwhile in Tehran, Ahmadinejad also said that Iran was willing to resume negotiations, although both he and Larijani rejected a condition for talks set by the U.N. Security Council that Iran first freeze its uranium enrichment program. "We are prepared for dialogue but won't suspend our activities," Ahmadinejad said.

In an address commemorating the 28th anniversary of the Islamic revolution that overthrew the shah of Iran, Ahmadinejad said his government had made recent progress in its nuclear development but did not give specifics. Some diplomats and analysts had expected him to announce that Iran had made a breakthrough in its efforts to enrich uranium.

U.S. and European officials expressed doubt about the sincerity of Iran's stated willingness to talk. "Offering to negotiate but saying suspension's off the table raises a real question about the sincerity of what he said," U.S. Deputy Treasury Secretary Robert M. Kimmitt told reporters in Germany after Larijani's appearance at the Munich Conference on Security Policy, an annual gathering of top defense officials and diplomats from around the world.

In Paris, French Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy said it would be "unacceptable" to hold negotiations unless Iran first agrees to freeze its nuclear activities. "We have to be exceedingly clear and very rigorous on this proposition," he said.
Iran insists its nuclear program is for peaceful energy purposes, but U.S. and European officials say Tehran is pushing to develop atomic weapons in violation of international treaties.

On Friday, the International Atomic Energy Agency suspended some technical aid to Iran, which is under a Feb. 21 deadline from the Security Council to stop enriching uranium or face more international sanctions.
Larijani also said Iran was a force for regional stability in the Middle East and had no designs on any of its neighbors, including Iraq and Israel. "We pose no threat, and if we are conducting nuclear research and development, we are no threat to Israel," he said.

Instead, Larijani blamed the United States for bringing chaos to the Middle East and South Asia, noting that it had invaded two of Iran's neighbors, Iraq and Afghanistan. He echoed some of the criticism leveled a day earlier in Munich by Russian President Vladimir Putin, who harshly accused the United States of making the world more dangerous than at any point during the Cold War.
On the Putin topic, see this post.

In addition, the European Union is toughening its approach on Iran by setting sanctions. At least they remain open to talks, something the US should do with Iran on both the important topics of Iraq and nukes.

Keep in mind Ahmadinejad is not doing so hot politically, and the government, part-democracy, part-theocracy, is divided on the nuclear situation.

Funny how this segway has led from Iran, Iraq, and the US to Iran, their nuclear program, and the West, but there are more developments on North Korea, its nukes, and the West also — more on that soon. Whereas Iran's nuclear program is in relatively early stages, North Korea's is more advanced (remember the missile tests?) and they are less economically lucky as Iran, meaning they are more dangerous with nukes, using them as leverage and selling technology to harmful forces (terrorists, rogue states, etc.). Iran, on the other hand, has less of an authoritarian government as North Korea, does have something to loose, has wealth, its oil, and other factors making North Korea certainly more serious than Iran — at least on the nuclear weapons topic. Iran also has plenty of young people who probably do not want to be totally blocked off from the rest of the world, all North Korea has is a maniacal leader and millions of starving civilians.

It all comes down to: the world does not need a nuclear-armed Iran — or another nuclear power period — but it certainly doesn't need another Iraq catastrophe either, especially one spearheaded by the current US president's administration.

Technorati technorati tags: , , , , , , , ,

No comments: