Friday, February 09, 2007
The canceled programs include efforts to improve human resources management in Iran’s nuclear sector, to improve nuclear power technology, to establish a nuclear technology center and to provide some specific types of industrial technology.
Projects that were allowed to continue include those with unquestionably peaceful purposes, such as medical or nuclear safety programs.
The agency canceled support for five other programs last month (see GSN, Jan. 18) and a planned additional effort was ended in November before it could start (see GSN, Nov. 27, 2006; Greg Webb, Global Security Newswire, Feb. 9).
In possible response to the IAEA measures, top Iranian nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani abruptly canceled planned meetings with agency head Mohamed ElBaradei today in Vienna and with senior European leaders who have gathered for a security conference this weekend in Munich (George Jahn, Associated Press/Forbes.com, Feb. 9).
“We have heard that Mr. Larijani will not be coming to the conference due to illness,” said conference organizer Horst Teltschik (Mark Heinrich, Reuters/Washington Post, Feb.9).
IAEA officials, however, said they were told Larijani would not visit for “technical reasons” (Jahn, Associated Press).
Larijani’s cancellation disrupted a plan by European officials to hold informal talks to try to break the impasse over Iran’s nuclear activities, Agence France-Presse reported today.
“They might agree on some sort of framework or concept under which the Iranians will pull the plug on centrifuges for a couple of months,” said a European diplomat in Vienna before the canceled meeting. In exchange, members of the U.N. Security Council could agree to take “no action for that period” on economic sanctions the council passed in December, the diplomat said (Michael Adler, Agence France-Presse/Yahoo!News, Feb. 9).
Such an interim deal would mirror a “timeout” proposal issued recently by Mohamed ElBaradei (see GSN, Jan. 30).
He repeated his call in a Der Spiegel interview published today.
“I have been calling for a simultaneous timeout: That means Iran would take a break from all its enrichment-related work and at the same time, the U.N. Security Council would put a hold on implementing sanctions,” he said. He recommended the timeout should last three months.
The failure of Iran and world powers to actively negotiate could lead all parties into “a spiral of escalation,” he said.
“My concern is that if we only focus on sanctions, that might lead into a confrontation on both sides, ending in an uncontrolled chain reaction,” he said (Der Spiegel, Feb. 9).
Meanwhile in Tehran, former President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani warned the United States yesterday not to take any military action against Iran.
“The enemy knows well that any aggression would face an all-out reaction of the Iranian nation towards the aggressors and their interests in all parts of the world,” he said. “Some people say that the U.S. president is not prone to calculating the consequences of his actions but it is possible to bring this kind of person to wisdom” (Bozorgmehr/Smyth, Financial Times, Feb. 8)
In Washington, the CIA is studying the possible implications of accepting that Iran could become a nuclear-armed state, the New York Sun reported today. The study would examine whether a failed U.S. effort to curtail Tehran’s nuclear ambitions would lead Iran’s neighbors to seek nuclear capabilities, according to the Sun.
One former CIA analyst said the prospects for living with a nuclear-armed Iran could depend on the nation’s leadership, consisting now of supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
“At the end of the day, we could live with a nuclear Iran under the Khamanei leadership,” said former CIA analyst Kenneth Pollack, now at the Brookings Institution. “From the death of [Ayatollah] Khomenei up to now, the Iranians have been nasty, murderous, and all those things, but they have not been reckless or irrational.”
If Ahmadinejad were to gain greater powers, however, the United States could have trouble.
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