Iran Set to Ban IAEA Inspections
As America and Britain change their approach and now seek to encircle Iran diplomatically by including Russia and China directly in the process, the Iranian Guardian Council has approved the Mejlis’ bill that outlaws IAEA nuclear inspections if Iran is put before the UN Security Council over its nuclear development program. The mere formality of Ahmadinejad’s signature will make it Iranian law.
In a change of course, the US and Britain have decided to bring Russia and China into the fold. This move goes far beyond the previously floated proposal of Russia enriching uranium for Iran and receiving back Iran’s spent fuel. This involves both Russia and China in actually examining shared intelligence data on Iran’s nuclear program in hopes that, should they agree that the evidence points to at least an intent to develop nuclear weapons, both will either support or at least not veto UN Security Council sanctions on Iran in last ditch attempts to derail their nuclear weapons development.
The statement is the hoped-for result of arms specialists in China and Russia examining the evidence on Iran - including thousands of pages found on a laptop computer obtained by the United States last year - and concluding, as the United States, Britain and France have with varying degrees of certainty, that it points at least to an intent to build a weapon.
“If we could get China and Russia to agree that this bears all the hallmarks of a weapons program, it could have an enormous impact on Iran,” said one senior European diplomat, because it might signal that if the issue reaches the Security Council, Iran could not count on Beijing or Moscow blocking action.
Meanwhile, concurrently in Iran, the Guardian Council’s approval of a measure that would block IAEA inspections puts Iran closer to unfettered nuclear development than the US and the EU are to getting Iran referred to the UN Security Council for potential sanctioning.
“If Iran’s nuclear file is referred or reported to the U.N. Security Council, the government will be required to cancel all voluntary measures,” the bill says, meaning Iran would stop allowing in-depth inspections by the IAEA. […]
In May, the Guardian Council ratified a bill compelling the government to continue the nuclear program, including uranium enrichment activities. The law set no timetable, however, allowing the government room to maneuver during negotiations with the European Union.
The United States backed off demands for an Iran referral to the UNSC at an IAEA member board meeting in November in hopes that talks could be resumed.
Both Russia and, to a lesser degree, China have been involved in actively assisting Iran’s nuclear program. It is probable that they both already have more detailed intelligence data in certain areas than Britain and the US. Considering recent developments, including the charge that Iran is training Chechen terrorists in Qom, a change in Russian position may have less to do with provided intelligence than other considerations.
Israel, who Iranian President Ahmadinejad said should be ‘wiped off the map’, reacted to developments with Prime Minister Ariel Sharon stating that a nuclear Iran is unacceptable and that Israel was making preparations for that eventuality, though he stressed that Israel is not taking the lead in confronting Iran’s nuclear ambitions. IDF successfully tested the Arrow TMD system, shooting down a missile similar to Iran’s long-range Shahab-3.
Expressing doubts about the path of diplomatic negotiations with Iran, Israel’s intelligence head, Major-General Aharon Zeevi Farkash, told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee that time was short according to his intelligence information.
“The efforts of the international community are almost exhausted,” he said. “In this battle, the Iranians have the advantage and the diplomatic track is in danger.”
If the Iranian efforts to enrich uranium for a nuclear device were not halted by the end of March, their program would have passed the point of no return, he added.