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Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Iran wants to retrade the deal

By Wednesday, Iran is supposed to give an answer as to whether it will agree to send some 75-80% of its known low enriched uranium (LEU) to Russia and France for enrichment to the 30% level and casting into rods for use in a medical reactor. While that is not a great deal for the West, for reasons I have discussed elsewhere, on Tuesday afternoon it was reported from Tehran that Iran wishes to retrade the deal, a scenario that could cause the deal to be canceled.
Among the central planks of the plan opposed by Iran -- but requested by the West to cut the risk of an Iranian atom bomb -- was for it to send most of its low-enriched uranium reserve abroad for processing all in one go, state television said.

Iran says it is enriching uranium only for power plant fuel, not for nuclear warheads. But its history of nuclear secrecy and continued restrictions on U.N. inspections have raised Western suspicions Iran is latently pursuing nuclear weapons capability.

Citing an unnamed official, the Iranian state Arabic-language satellite television station al Alam said on Tuesday Iran would present its response to the proposed agreement within 48 hours, a week after a deadline set by its author, U.N. nuclear watchdog chief Mohamed ElBaradei.

Al Alam said Iran would "agree to the general framework of the draft proposal but will request some important amendments."

It did not elaborate on the changes Tehran would seek to the draft agreement ElBaradei hammered out in consultations with Iran, Russia, France and the United States in Vienna last week.

But senior lawmakers have said Iran should import foreign fuel rather than send abroad by the end of this year much of its own low-enriched uranium (LEU) stock -- a crucial strategic asset in talks with world powers -- as the proposal stipulates.


"It's not a good sign ... it is a bad indication," French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner told reporters at an EU foreign ministers meeting in Luxembourg, referring to the latest, ambiguous Iranian statements.

"Time is running out for the Iranians... This (Middle East) region is inflammable. It's an explosive circle and I do not think that in such a context the Iranians can play for time. That is very dangerous," he said.

"If there is the necessity -- but we might not see it until the end of the year -- we would start work on new sanctions," Kouchner added.
What could go wrong?


At 2:56 AM, Blogger NormanF said...

As I mentioned yesterday, Iran looks like its going for broke. Any normal country would accept such a generous offer but Iran is far from being a normal country. Its regime is radical enough that it is willing to jeopardize relations with the West in order to gain more concessions without it having to give up anything in return - which is the regime's modus operandi.As Tehran sees it, why settle for 80% when they can get still more down the road?

They must have confidence the West's offer is not a final offer when they raised the price of acceding to it.

What could go wrong indeed


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