Iranian Nuclear Dance Continues
The events of the past week seem at first glance fast and furious. Upon closer inspection, it’s nothing more than the club re-mix version of the same old song.
Last Wednesday, an unnamed IAEA official reported that Iran had resumed conversion of Uranium ore at Isfahan. That IAEA official was aptly quoted saying:
“This is a rebuff to efforts to create some space to continue negotiations,” the diplomat close to the IAEA said. “It looks like Iran is confident the board will opt not to refer them.”
Following this, Mohammed elBaredai’s confidential IAEA report on Iran reportedly stated Friday that Iran had been “more forthcoming” but then added, “Iran’s full transparency is indispensable and overdue.” It was also revealed in the not-completely-confidential report that Iran had turned over plans it had obtained that detailed the manufacturing process for milling a hemispherical-shaped uranium payload. CNN referred to the instructions as merely “how to set up the complicated process of enriching uranium, which can used to make nuclear arms,” though later US envoy to the IAEA, Gregory Schulte, made the details known.
“The most disturbing bit of information reported to us was the fact that the inspectors had uncovered this document that describes how to machine uranium into a hemisphere and to our knowledge about the only real reason to machine uranium into a hemisphere is to produce nuclear weapons,” he said.
Iran is reporting to the IAEA that it never asked for the designs, that it merely was provided to them by the Pakistani AQ Kahn network as some sort of sales and marketing pitch. AQ Kahn’s network was in the business of nuclear information and knowledge and, to a lesser degree, equipment on the back-end. The inanity of the Iranian explanation begs two questions:
1. If AQ Kahn sells information and knowledge, why give away any keys to the kingdom in a marketing ploy? Logic dictates otherwise.
2. If Iran never wanted the plans, why, after three years of this dance, are they only now turning over the documents? Again, logic dictates otherwise.
One possible explanation may be that the designs, according to a source familiar with the document, simply are ‘old Chinese designs’, outgrown by the Iranian researchers.
On the ‘nuclear cookbook’ revelations, Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi quickly quipped, “When the U.S. and their allies found out ElBaradei’s report did not have negative points, they made a fuss about this baseless matter.”
Nonetheless, so baseless was the revelation of the ‘nuclear cookbook’ (and knowing all of this well before Friday’s ‘confidential’ IAEA report), Iran’s Majlis (Parliament) voted on Sunday (183-14) to resume enrichment and ban IAEA inspections if Iran were to be referred to the UN Security Council over its nuclear program.
Upholding the tradition of keeping the dance alive, the United States and the EU-3 have thus resolved not to refer Iran to the UNSC at this time, no small victory for Iran. With renewed efforts to outsource the enrichment process to Russia, the US and the EU3 (Britain, Germany and France) have agreed to resume ‘talks’ with Iran, this time bringing Russia to the table as another active player.
The most astute observation of the potential talks (or any past talks for that matter) comes from an unwittingly sage European diplomat.
The diplomat said the idea would be to “talk about (resuming) talks” between Iran and the trio of European Union negotiators on guaranteeing Tehran will not make nuclear weapons.
There will be no resuming talks, just talks about resuming talks. And, once the ‘real’ talks resume, they are sure to prove nothing more than a continuation of circular conversations in a seemingly perpetual spin cycle. It’s a lot like watching the movie ‘Groundhog Day’. Everyone knows precisely what is going to happen, but every time it’s on, you still watch the silly thing.
In short, this week’s cycle of events surrounding the Iranian nuclear weapons program is nothing more than a microcosm of the whirlwind cycle that has repeated relentlessly over the past three years.
The song remains the same. The Iranian Nuclear Re-Mix version.