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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.

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It could be a blink on Iran's part, although I'm not so sure. It could simply be their next move, calculated in advance, to counter the West's latest move. While hopeful that you are right, I'm quite concerned that the West might start doing the blinking.

In essence, you are right.

That is what I intended to convey by 'blink' and why I said:

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.

It was almost like a Mexican Showdown for a while, as both sides were clear and firm. By 'blinking', Iran proved once again they are always ready to talk. You just have to wait long enough.

Here's hoping the players in the game continue to wait rather than acquiesce to the Iranian game.

Apologies if my language in the early part of this suggested that this was some sort of revelatory breakthrough.

It's the same old song & dance. You know the routine well enough, my friend.

Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

Today's Forbes report: "Iran Makes Overture Ahead of Russian Talks" said the Iranian ambassador's statement was a summary of their chief negotiator's comments during a French Radio interview, that took place also on Thursday (the day of the French FM's statement).

Now, unless there is a purposeful France-Iran two-step here, the interview comments are unrelated to the French Foreign Minister's statement. I could be wrong on this. It would be hard to find out if the interview was scheduled because of the FM's statment, for one, but I am doubtful the Iranians could react that quickly to the FM's statement via their chief negotiator.

I'm curious. When did this US-UK centrifuges suggestion come out and who are the scientists? That seems to be the instigation more than anything else. It's a great segue into more of what you call 'talks about talks'.

I am more interested in the the first sentence that you quote. It may be just the comment made by a teenager claiming he is an independent adult, but I don't think most serious people would consider they are "today, ... a nuclear country". On the brink, maybe but not one yet. So what, in heaven's name, is the message there? Have they used that before, because I've only heard them continually say, they have the right to become one?

In any event, the Iranians want nukes. I don't see any good outcome from any more talks. Even if they said they were going to abandon all nuclear programs and skip having nuclear plants, by the time substantial progress toward that policy was made, they would have the nukes they wanted.

Call me a cynic, here, too, but if the Iranians buy into Russia providing fuel at the upcoming talks or further into the future, I will take it that that means it is also too late.

I found this in yesterday's C-Trib's "France says Iran is making nukes":

"Iran's chief negotiator, Ali Larijani, lashed back at the French statement.

"I recommend that Mr. Douste-Blazy speak in diplomatic terms and avoid increasing tension," he said, according to Iranian state-run television. "The motivation of the French foreign minister behind his new comments is ambiguous to us. But it is in the interests of the region that the West adopts a logical stance toward Iran's nuclear activities."

So was this part of the interview or afterwards. The Trib doesn't say. Anyway, I love Larijani's "I recommend that Mr. Douste-Blazy speak in diplomatic terms ....". Does he mean diplo-speak like the Iranian ambassador's "Today, we are a nuclear country ...."?