|THE IAEA MISTRUSTS IRAN
MOSCOW. (RIA Novosti political commentator Pyotr Goncharov)
The Board of Governors of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)
refused to provide Iran with technical assistance for its project to build
a heavy-water reactor in Araq. The UN nuclear watchdog fears that Iran
plans to produce weapons-grade plutonium there.
This decision may influence the UN Security Councilís resolution on
The IAEA Board, which met in Vienna on November 23, heard the report on
Iranís nuclear program presented by Director General Mohamed ElBaradei.
The report had been sent to the governors confidentially ahead of the
meeting. It says that the agency cannot guarantee the peaceful nature of
Iranís nuclear program unless the country ensures proper transparency.
The conclusions of the IAEA governors will be forwarded to the five
permanent members of the UN Security Council and Germany, which are to
coordinate a new draft resolution on Iran.
The United States is pushing for harsh sanctions, whereas Russia and China
are in favor of much softer measures. Britain, France and Germany are
advocating moderate sanctions. All of them, however, are waiting for
A careful analysis of the recent dynamics of the Iranian nuclear problem
shows that Tehran is prodding the Security Council towards adopting very
This is the only possible explanation for the recent statement by
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, in which he said that Iran would by all
means begin using its 60,000 uranium enrichment centrifuges.
The enrichment complex under construction in Natanz, which is expected to
have 54,000 centrifuges, as well as Tehranís intention to build a
heavy-water plant in Araq, make nuclear and non-proliferation experts
doubt the civilian nature of Iranís nuclear program.
Nevertheless, Iran continues to burn one bridge after another.
The latest statement by the Iranian president was especially shocking,
because Iran's top nuclear negotiator, Ali Larijani, paid a three-day
visit to Moscow ahead of the six-party meeting on Iran. That visit was
expected to influence the wording of the UN resolution.
The tone of Larijaniís talks in Russia was predictable, especially in
view of the fact that they were held before Vladimir Putinís meeting
with President George W. Bush, whose plane stopped over in Moscow for
refueling. Iranís nuclear program was the main issue on the two
Larijani hinted in Moscow that Iran might make considerable concessions,
notably, that it may start cooperating with the IAEA and even resume talks
with the Kremlin on the construction of a joint uranium enrichment
facility in Russia.
In principle, Moscowís efforts have prodded the draft resolution away
from the harsh American-European wording. The EUís initial version
stipulated a ban on the supply of any equipment and technologies that Iran
could use for its nuclear program. Freezing Iranian assets and banning the
movement of Iranian nuclear specialists outside Iran were also proposed.
But the Kremlin argued that by approving such a resolution, the Security
Council would usurp the powers of the IAEA, while it should instead use
its prestige to support the agencyís position. The resolution also
looked like an attempt to punish Iran, while it should be aimed at
developing cooperation with it.
Eventually, Moscow managed to limit bans on the export of nuclear
technology to Iran.
The draft resolution is being viewed as a pilot version of sanctions,
although what it stipulates are in fact mere limitations that could be
described as relative. Through it, the international community is sending
a signal to Iran in the hope of receiving a reasonable response. That
response will determine the worldís relations with Iran, including its
future cooperation with the IAEA.
The UN nuclear watchdogís decision to deny technical assistance to the
Araq project could be said to reflect doubts about Iranís allegedly
peaceful nuclear program. -0-