Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Strength to Negotiate

The Economist suggests that Iran is ready to come to the table on its nuclear program:
"Still, it must seem odd that just when some Western leaders have been rattling sabres louder than ever, Western diplomats suddenly proposed, on March 6th, to resume suspended talks with the Islamic Republic over its vexed nuclear programme. It must seem equally strange that Iran’s leaders, who in February bluntly barred the UN’s nuclear inspectors from visiting a particularly suspect site, now suddenly say they are welcome to a tour...

"Yet in other respects Iran has continued, grudgingly, to co-operate with the inspection regime. In February Ayatollah Khamenei, the Supreme Leader, reiterated that the Islamic Republic 'has never and will never' pursue nuclear weapons because it considers them sinful. Iran’s nuclear negotiator, Saeed Jalili, also suddenly deigned to answer a letter, sent to him in October by Catherine Ashton, the EU’s foreign-policy chief, requesting renewed talks with the six-nation contact group...

"Controls on international financial transactions, which already badly squeeze Iranian traders and have fuelled galloping inflation, have tightened again in recent weeks. Electronic transfers to or from Iran using the ubiquitous global SWIFT interbank network will soon be suspended, in effect blocking the movement of any money except cash. Iran says it will accept payment for goods in gold, non-Western currencies or via barter, but these are not long-term options. Big Asian customers for Iranian oil, including Japan, Singapore, India and South Korea have begun trimming imports from Iran, and the EU is set to cut off Iranian imports entirely by July. Insurers also now balk at covering shipments of Iranian oil, adding yet more cost and complexity to a trade that Iran relies on for the bulk of its revenue."

In the magazine's interpretation, Iran's regime is using the (highly questionable) 64% reported turnout in the parliamentary elections to claim popular support, and planning to negotiate with that background. The article does not mention that Iran's offer to restart talks last month happened just a few days after a widely publicized breakthrough in which it gained the ability to provide its own fuel for medical reactors. This shows Iran as a technologically sophisticated country that does not have to depend on foreign powers in the nuclear realm, exactly why nuclear programs have appealed to so many generations of Iranians and others around the world.

The most important piece of evidence that Iran is seeking nuclear weapons is a possible detonator test at Parchin, where Iran has not allowed inspections, though they now say they are open to it. Something is happening there, and the Obama administration believes it is part of a nuclear weapons program. If it is, then it is possible that, given the sanctions regime, the Iranian government is interested in pocketing their technological gains with the option of advancing later.



Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home