Thursday, October 4, 2012

Is Iran really refusing to cooperate on the nuclear issue?

 The site Al-Monitor gives some attention to what president Ahmadinejad (and his foreign minister) said in New York during their visit at the end of September to the UN-General Assembly, words that weren't really reproduced extensively in other media. It's worth to take note.  

Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad addresses diplomats during the high-level meeting of the General Assembly on the Rule of Law at the United Nations headquarters in New York September 24, 2012. REUTERS/Eduardo MunozOn Iran’s nuclear program, Ahmadinejad said in New York that his previous offer for Iran to end its production of 20% enriched uranium if the enriched uranium was provided to Iran for its nuclear medical-research reactor is “still on the table.” He repeated the offer at a press conference in Tehran on Oct. 2, saying “anytime they give us this fuel we will feel no need to produce the costly fuel of 20%.”
This is the same offer he made during the UN General Assembly meetings in 2011, but this initiative was overtaken by the accusations of the Iranian plot to assassinate the Saudi Arabian ambassador to the United States and was ignored by Washington.
 In March I wrote in Al-Monitor that the US should test Iran’s intentions by taking up this offer. Getting Iran to halt 20% enrichment is not the endgame, but it is an essential first step. The talks will go nowhere until Iran halts enrichment at this level.
Ahmadinejad gave further clues as how to break out of the impasse in the nuclear negotiations. He reaffirmed last week that the Tehran Declaration, agreed by Iran, Turkey and Brazil in May 2010, in which Iran agreed to ship 1,200 kilograms of low-enriched uranium to Turkey in return for 120 kilograms of 20%-enriched uranium fuel, under the supervision of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the US, France and Russia, is also still on the table and welcomed US participation in building an Iranian civilian nuclear power plant.
On Syria, I wrote last week that Ahmadinejad had undertaken a new diplomatic initiative to end the ‘tribal warfare.' My colleague Laura Rozen reported that Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi has held a flurry of top-level diplomatic meetings in New York on Syria, including with Lakhdar Brahimi, the UN/Arab League Special Envoy for Syria. Most significantly, Salehi said Iran supports Brahimi’s mediation efforts, adding, “We are cognizant of the fact that Iran cannot take the lead” in mediation efforts on Syria … "so as the case with other countries that have taken the other side. So we stressed that we have to support Mr. Brahimi’s initiative and mission.”

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