Iran Blinks: Ready to 'Consider' Ratifying NPT and Additional Protocol
Amidst firm and resolute pressure from the West, most notably from France and the United States, Iran today blinked in the international stare-down over the Iranian nuclear weapons program. In a statement made by the Iranian embassy in Paris, it was said that the Iranian mejlis (parliament) is finally ready to take up official ratification approval of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty and the Additional Protocol, long demanded by the West and refused by Iran.
The impetus for the Iranian moves today may lie in the Russians’ firm stance that Iran stop all enrichment activity before they will even entertain resuming negotiations regarding the Russian Proposal, which is seen as the only way for Iran to avoid action of some sort by the UN Security Council. This may be Iran’s response to that pressure.
What is most curious about today’s events is that the word of this new position comes from Iran’s French embassy in Paris and not the mejlis representatives responsible for introducing such measures into the Iranian parliament. The significance of making this statement from Iran’s embassy in France, rather than any other embassy or from the UN mission, should also be noted. This is a direct response to the surprising and unwavering determined stance taken by France , which surely has shocked Iran as much as any other nation.
On Iranian state-run television, the head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization, Gholamreza Aghazadeh, said, “Today, we are a nuclear country and we are ready to negotiate with other countries to remove their concerns. If a proper solution is suggested, we are ready to negotiate. They have to stop threatening us with sanctions and other threats.”
The last sentence is key. It is the prime indicator of what should be clearly seen as “The Blink”. The question is why. Why would Iran make such a move? Is it possible that they are not as confident in their program and/or regime survivability as their rhetoric to-date suggests?
Regardless of the underlying potential motivations for this latest surprise maneuver, Iran’s statement about ratifying the NPT and Additional Protocol should be seen first within the context of two clear trends.
First, it demonstrates Iran’s clear pattern of bellicose recalcitrance until the West largely stands firm and turns away from the table. It is at this point in every instance that Iran would make a gesture of some sort in an attempt to renew discussion and restart the time-consuming process of talks and schedules. This pattern can is clearly visible even when examining the timeline of events surrounding Iran’s approach to the Russian Proposal.
Second, in its statements today, Iran indicated that it would consider using American and UK centrifuges for enrichment, supposedly allowing them to only produce enriched uranium and not being capable of enriching uranium to the point of weapons-grade. This means that, even though the Russian demands may be driving the move, Iran is still, under the guise of a conciliatory counter-offer, insisting on enriching uranium on Iranian soil.
Today’s events will likely be viewed as extremely positive by many. However, it must be considered that Iran is beyond the point of trustworthiness and that the IAEA (around whom the NPT and Additional Protocol measures revolve, snap inspections or none) is beyond the point of effectiveness.
It is Iran’s way of salvaging more ‘talks about talks’, buying more precious time and still furthering the notion that enrichment on Iranian soil is the only solution. Iran has never once wavered on the issue of their ‘right’ to enrich uranium. They should not be expected to and they indicated no change from that today.
Today is the day that Iran blinked. It should also be the day that the West (and Russia) continued to stare with the effective determination that brought this about.