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Perspectives: Does West Have Ahmadinejad, Nuke Policy All Wrong?

15 Jan 2011 02:26Comments

Press Roundup provides selected excerpts of news and opinion pieces from the Iranian and international media. Click on the link to the story to read it in full. Tehran Bureau has not verified these stories and does not vouch for their accuracy. The inclusion of various opinions in no way implies their endorsement by Tehran Bureau. Please refer to the Media Guide to help put the stories in perspective. You can follow other news items through our Twitter feed.



Do We Have Ahmadinejad All Wrong?

Reza Aslan (The Atlantic) | Jan 13

Is it possible that Iran's blustering president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, long thought to be a leading force behind some of Iran's most hard-line and repressive policies, is actually a reformer whose attempts to liberalize, secularize, and even "Persianize" Iran have been repeatedly stymied by the country's more conservative factions? That is the surprising impression one gets reading the latest WikiLeaks revelations, which portray Ahmadinejad as open to making concessions on Iran's nuclear program and far more accommodating to Iranians' demands for greater freedoms than anyone would have thought.

In October 2009, Ahamdinejad's chief nuclear negotiator, Saeed Jalili, worked out a compromise with world power representatives in Geneva on Iran's controversial nuclear program. But the deal, in which Iran agreed to ship nearly its entire stockpile of low enriched uranium to Russia and France for processing, collapsed when it failed to garner enough support in Iran's parliament, the Majles.

According to a U.S. diplomatic cable recently published by WikiLeaks, Ahmadinejad, despite all of his tough talk and heated speeches about Iran's right to a nuclear program, fervently supported the Geneva arrangement, which would have left Iran without enough enriched uranium to make a nuclear weapon. But, inside the often opaque Tehran government, he was thwarted from pursuing the deal by politicians on both the right and the left who saw the agreement as a "defeat" for the country and who viewed Ahmadinejad as, in the words of Ali Larijani, the conservative Speaker of the Majles, "fooled by the Westerners."

Despite the opposition from all sides, Ahmadinajed, we have learned, continued to tout the nuclear deal as a positive and necessary step for Iran. In February 2010, he reiterated his support for the Geneva agreement saying, "If we allow them to take [Iran's enriched uranium for processing], there is no problem."

The US Is Wrong about Iran. Cutting a Deal is the Only Win-Win Solution.

Kayhan Barzegar (Christian Science Monitor) | Jan 14

While "confidence-building" is the most important factor in the course of any nuclear negotiations which hope to succeed between Iran and the P5+1 group (the permanent members of the UN Security Council -- US, Russia, China, Britain, France -- plus Germany), the United States is talking about a new round of coercive sanctions against Iran. The US objective in continuing the "sanctions for negotiations" policy aims at weakening the "nuclear consensus" inside Iran. However, if successful, this policy would have the reverse result, since the unraveling of the nuclear consensus that now exists within Iran would halt any progress on the diplomatic front.

For Iran, maintaining the capacity for "independent uranium enrichment" on its own soil means acquisition of a nuclear "capability." This endeavor is based on an important strategic objective around which all political blocs agree: the acceptance of Iran as a "nuclear state" by world powers. This consensus is a powerful, unassailable domestic reality that cannot be reversed. No political group in Iran today, reformist or otherwise, would dream of demanding the suspension of uranium enrichment.

Against the grain of this consensus, the US has sought the suspension of any uranium enrichment capacity by Iran. This inflexible policy differs from the views held by the other P5+1 countries, namely the EU trio (France, German, and the Britain), Russia, and China. These powers have gradually come to agree with Iran's right to enrichment on its native soil. In the Geneva negotiations last December, this right was implicitly accepted by all parties, including by the United States, as Secretary of State Hillary Clinton noted just before the negotiations got under way.

Despite this, the US seems bent on trying to overturn that consensus both internationally and within Iran.



Afghan Fuel Protests outside Iranian Embassy

BBC News | Jan 14

In the Afghan capital Kabul there are have been fuel protests outside the Iranian embassy.

Demonstrators say Iran is preventing oil tankers from crossing the border into Afghanistan, because it suspects the fuel is being used by American and foreign forces.

Only a handful of tankers are making it through, and the cost of fuel in some parts of the country has risen by more than half.

Iran Plans to Begin Manufacturing Centrifuges

Tehran Times | Jan 15

Iran plans to begin domestically manufacturing nuclear centrifuges, the deputy secretary of Iran's Supreme National Security Council said on Friday in Qom.

"Today, the Islamic Republic is seeking to build centrifuges with the Iranian brand, and (we) can say that nuclear technology is regarded as domestic expertise in our country," Ali Baqeri added.

Iran's nuclear program has made significant progress in terms of technical matters, he stated.

Former Nuclear Inspector: China Falling Short on Enforcing Sanctions on Iran

Christian Science Monitor | Jan 14

China is failing to enforce trade laws necessary for nuclear sanctions against Iran, weakening international efforts to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear arsenal, according to a former nuclear inspector for the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

Bloomberg reports that David Albright, a nuclear physicist who served as a UN nuclear inspector in Iran in the 1990s, warned Thursday that "China does not implement and enforce its trade controls or its sanctions laws adequately."

While the U.S. and Europe have developed law enforcement and export control networks to detect Iranian front companies attempting to buy dual-use technology or materials, in China there's "still a large amount" of equipment and materials that reaches Iranian buyers, Albright said.

"To a German supplier in China, it looks like a domestic sale where export controls don't even come into play," Albright said. "It turns out that company is a front for an Iranian smuggling network."

Cleric Lauds Iranian Intelligence Forces' Performance in Spy War

Fars | Jan 14

Tehran's provisional Friday Prayers Leader Hojjatoleslam Kazzem Sediqi praised the country's intelligence forces for their success in arresting the terrorists who assassinated a renowned Iranian nuclear scientist last year.

Addressing a large congregation of people on Tehran University campus, Hojjatoleslam Sediqi said such a big victory is gained thanks to constant efforts of the intelligence forces.

"The apprehension of Mossad agents and the perpetrators behind the assassination of one of the country's prominent [scholars]...is a turning point in the scientific developments in the country," Sediqi stressed.

Iranian Intelligence Minister Heidar Moslehi announced on Tuesday that the country had arrested 10 Israeli spies and disband several spying networks after infiltrating the Zionist regime's intelligence system and IT networks.

See also: "Has Professor Ali-Mohammadi's Assassin Really Been Arrested?" (Tehran Bureau)

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