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Broken Resolve Boosts Ahmadinejad's Confidence

Before a backdrop of the continuing stalemate at the UN regarding sanctions over Iran’s clandestine nuclear program and the fallout following the US elections that include a new US Secretary of Defense who has recommended direct talks with Iran in the past (See: Iran: Time for a New Approach), Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said that the mechanisms for a complete Iranian nuclear fuel cycle will be fully operational by February. Ahmadinejad said in a Tuesday news conference closed to foreign reporters that he hopes to be able to celebrate this accomplishment in the early February ‘Ten-Day Dawn’ celebrations commemorating the 1979 Islamic revolution in Iran.

It is likely in no small part due to this existing backdrop that Ahmadinejad demonstrated his confidence in the West’s broken resolve when he added, “Today, they have finally agreed to live with a nuclear Iran, with an Iran possessing the whole nuclear fuel cycle.” Assured of the West’s inability and/or insufficient will to stop the Iranian program, Ahmadinejad announced plans for enrichment facilities of 60,000 centrifuges.

Ahmadinejad suggested that Iran would open talks with the United States on the precondition that it “correct its behavior.” Said Ahmadinejad, “We won’t talk to the Zionist regime because it is a usurper and an illegitimate entity. But we will talk to the U.S. government under certain conditions. Should it correct its behavior, we will talk to them.”

But with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert in Washington for talks, President Bush re-stated that a nuclear Iran will not be tolerated. The president said to reporters in a news conference, “If the Iranians want to have a dialogue with us, we have shown them a way forward, and that is for them to verifiably suspend their enrichment activities.” Iran has repeatedly rejected both enrichment cessation and any preconditions to talks, though it made one itself today. President Bush’s comments also come following British Prime Minister Tony Blair’s suggestion that Iran and Syria could play a role in a peaceful Iraq under “a new partnership.”

Much in the foreground, the Iranian president told Iranian government ministers on Monday that “Israel is destined for destruction and it will disappear soon,” adding that since Israel was “a contradiction to nature, we foresee its rapid disappearance and destruction.”

Has America and the West “finally agreed to live with a nuclear Iran,” as Ahmadinejad states with confidence? The Iranian nuclear program certainly continues apace, unobstructed and virtually unchallenged.

In April, Ahmadinejad defiantly said, “Our answer to those who are angry about Iran obtaining the full nuclear cycle is one phrase — we say: Be angry and die of this anger.” While the United States and others may not immediately “die of this anger,” the Iranian president has cause to be confident that the West is ill-prepared to do anything about it.

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