Israel, the U.S. and the Arab World
October 5, 2009
If Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov is to be believed, Iran came out of its first diplomatic engagement with the big powers flushed with success. Not only has Tehran gained international legitimacy for its enriched uranium program - contrary to UN Security Council resolutions - but third-nation help is on tap for reaching a higher grade of enrichment.
Monday, Oct. 5, Lavrov let the cat out of the bag when he said in Vienna that an agreement reached between Tehran and six world powers last week for Russia to help enrich uranium for an Iranian reactor had yet to be finalized.
He said experts would meet soon to implement the plan, after the IAEA chief Mohamed ElBaradei stated in Tehran Sunday that the experts would meet in Vienna Oct. 19 to discuss the deal for Russia to take some of Iran's processed uranium and enrich it further.
The Russian minister referred to "an Iranian reactor," whereas the IAEA chief spoke of enriched uranium to be reprocessed abroad "for use as medical isotopes." Visitors are shown around a small medical reactor in Tehran to demonstrate that its nuclear program is innocuous although Western intelligence believes it to be a link in Iran's covert plutonium bomb project.
The plan to be cleared in Vienna is for the transfer of Iran's stock of uranium enriched to 3-5 percent to Russia where it would be further reprocessed to 19.75 percent. Former US ambassador to the UN John Bolton explained Monday that this level "is barely under the 20 percent definition of weapons-grade" uranium.
None of the representatives of the big powers attending last Thursday's meeting with the Iranian negotiator Saeed Jalili last Thursday, Oct. 1, revealed that Russia's helping hand would effectively jump-start Iran to cover the distance to 90 percent enrichment in no more than a week or two.
The Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Hassan Ghashghavi was perfectly correct when he said there has been no change in his government's "nuclear stance" as a result of the Geneva conference. Not only has Iran not given an inch, but it is presenting the conference and the IAEA chief's visit as "Western acknowledgement of its right to pursue civil nuclear technology including enrichment."
The harsh sanctions hanging over Iran's head have melted away. Indeed, Tehran is effectively off the hook of past sanctions which punished it for pursuing a banned enrichment program.
Furthermore, Moscow will boost enriched uranium stocks four to fivefold.
If the Vienna meeting on Oct. 19 approves this arrangement, it will cut the ground from under any US or Israeli demands for further UN sanctions. It is therefore hard to understand why the Israeli government headed by Binyamin Netanyahu has not spoken up in protest against a deal which shortens Iran's road to a nuclear weapon.
October 4, 2009
Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Mohamed ElBaradei said Sunday that "Israel is number one threat to Middle East" with its nuclear arms, the official IRNA news agency reported.
At a joint press conference with Iran's Atomic Energy Organization chief Ali Akbar Salehi in Tehran, ElBaradei brought Israel under spotlight and said that the Tel Aviv regime has refused to allow inspections into its nuclear installations for 30years, the report said.
"Israel is the number one threat to the Middle East given the nuclear arms it possesses," ElBaradei was quoted as saying.Israel is widely assumed to have nuclear capabilities, although it refuses to confirm or deny the allegation.
"This (possession of nuclear arms) was the cause for some proper measures to gain access to its (Israel's) power plants ... and the U.S. president has done some positive measures for the inspections to happen," said ElBaradei.ElBaradei arrived in Iran Saturday for talks with Iranian officials over Tehran's nuclear program.
Leaders of the United States, France and Britain have condemned Iran's alleged deception to the international community involving covert activities in its new underground nuclear site.
Last month, Iran confirmed that it is building a new nuclear fuel enrichment plant near its northwestern city of Qom. In reaction, the IAEA asked Tehran to provide detailed information and access to the new nuclear facility as soon as possible.
On Sunday, ElBaradei said the UN nuclear watchdog would inspect Iran's new uranium plant near Qom on Oct. 25.