April 24, 2007


Diplomatic dances over Iran (Kaveh L Afrasiabi , 4/25/07, Asia Times)

"Iran is prepared to provide the most cooperation in the area of control and monitoring" of its nuclear program, the powerful editor of Resalat has stated, a position reiterated by Larijani, who has said: "If they are concerned about diversion [to a weapons program], the issue is so important as to become the focus of future negotiations. We would like that others would have no concern about Iran's peaceful nuclear activities."

Calling for a "different methodology" to pursue results in the nuclear talks, Larijani has at the same time declared Iran's "readiness to step in the path of cooperation". He has dismissed a report from Russia that as long as the nuclear stalemate continues, the power plant in Bushehr in Iran that the Russians are building will not be completed.

Yet that may be the price that Iran will have to pay if Russia and other members of the UN's "5+1" - the Permanent Five Security Council members (the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Russia and China) plus Germany - escalate pressure on Iran in the face of Tehran's defiance of UN resolutions over ceasing uranium enrichment.

Russia has already committed itself to the charted path of the Security Council, and President Vladimir Putin is unlikely to shift course at a time he is cultivating relations with the EU and repairing damage with Washington.

Iran's challenge is precisely how to find a suitable formula whereby its nuclear rights can be maintained while, at the same time, it shows a greater deference than hitherto observed toward UN resolutions.

Failed talks between Larijani and Solana will only harden the resolve of the 5+1 to toughen sanctions, whereas a mini-breakthrough will give Russia the space necessary to maneuver at the UN and, perhaps, make a pitch for returning Iran's dossier to the International Atomic Energy Agency, the UN's nuclear watchdog.

In the absence of serious signs of a new flexible approach, Iran's nuclear diplomacy runs the risk of alienating not only the EU but also Russia and China, and thus failing to reverse the negative impact of sanctions on Iran's economy. It takes two to tango, as the saying goes, and the new circumstances demand a deeper level of flexibility from Iran than hitherto observed.

Except that, as his ow reporting shows, all that's necessary is for Iran to change its behavior.

Posted by Orrin Judd at April 24, 2007 6:45 AM
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