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Iran's 'Slower, Please' Russian Talks Renewal

In the midst of world doubt over the Iranian nuclear program, Iran’s President Ahmadinejad visited the Natanz nuclear facility south of Tehran, the principal center of Iran’s newly restarted uranium enrichment efforts. While praising the scientists for their nuclear fuel work, Ahmadinejad hinted at their true aim.

“Though your main concern is to produce nuclear fuel, your attempts to this end will result in more precious outcomes.”

These ‘more precious outcomes’ should not be misunderstood to be radiological isotopes for medical usage. The state-run Islamic Republic News Agency paraphrased Ahmadinejad, saying that in his speech he ’noted that what the enemies are afraid of is not production of nuclear bomb, given that in the world of today, nuclear weapons are of no use.’ This assertion of uselessness, however, flies in the face of adamant Iranian objection to the Israeli nuclear arsenal neither confirmed nor denied by Tel Aviv.

This as Iran once again makes a reversal on rhetoric, claiming they are indeed now ready to negotiate with Russia on the Russian Proposal, which seeks to lure Iranian enrichment operations onto Russian soil and oversight.

Iranian spokesman Gholam Hossein Elham said of Tehran’s earlier decision to disengage from the Russian talks, Russia’s proposal should be based on policies of the Islamic Republic of Iran,” adding that chief among those policies include a “determination to enrich uranium for peaceful purposes inside Iranian territory.”

Adding fuel to the Iranian fire of determination, Ahmadinejad himself had said earlier this week, ”You [Russia] are telling us not to produce our nuclear fuel and that you are going to produce it somewhere else instead and then give it back to us. Wow. Do you think we believe you?”

It is clear, with revealing language like this, that the Russian proposal will either fail on its own merits or Iran will agree, easing pressure on itself, only to fail to honor the agreement when it comes time for implementation. The Russian proposal is a non-starter.

As for Russia’s stance, it was positive that they appeared to stand firm, remaining steadfast in their demand that Iran first cease all enrichment operations recently restarted before anything substantive moves forward. That being said, the meeting is still scheduled between the two for next Monday, February 20, 2006.

At the same time, while such demands understandably play well in the West, Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov reminded that, when push comes to shove, Russia is still opposed to sanctions against Iran regardless, UN Security Council reference or none.

Meanwhile, in Washington, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice spoke before the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee in support of President Bush’s supplemental request for an additional $75 million to support democratic movements within Iran. This is in addition to the $10 million already accounted for in the existing budget. Of the $75 million, about $50 million will be used for feeding Farsi broadcasts and telecasts into Iran in support of opposition to the regime. She also reiterated that The international community is going to have to act and act decisively if Iran is to know that there’s a consequence for their open defiance of the international community.”

Iran is not without absolute friends, as they and Venezuela announced the creation of a $200 Million Fund, funded equally by both for joint ‘agricultural and industrial projects. “We have taken a fundamental step toward the consolidation of the relationship between Iran and Venezuela,” said Venezuela’s Foreign Trade Minister, Gustavo Marquez.

As to which industry Iran and Venezuela may use the funds for, Iranian mejlis speaker, Gholamali Haddadadel, said that Iran would not rule out helping Venezuela with their nuclear program.

The clock continues to tick on the Iranian nuclear program, a program in which the aim is not simply to arm Iran, but, secondarily, to also proliferate weapons technology throughout the Middle East and the world to any tyrannical regime willing to confront the United States. Hugo Chavez clearly qualifies.