News Special Wire Iran hardens position after talk of concessions - analyst

Iran hardens position after talk of concessions – analyst

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Iran Focus: Paris, Feb. 28 – Emboldened by signs that the United States may be about to join the European Union’s nuclear negotiations with Iran by offering incentives to Tehran, Iran is hardening its position and making a serious bid to dictate its terms during the nuclear talks with the European “big three”, Britain, France, and Germany, an Iran expert said today. Iran Focus

Paris, Feb. 28 – Emboldened by signs that the United States may be about to join the European Union’s nuclear negotiations with Iran by offering incentives to Tehran, Iran is hardening its position and making a serious bid to dictate its terms during the nuclear talks with the European “big three”, Britain, France, and Germany, an Iran expert said today.

Ali Safavi, President of the Washington-based Near East Policy Research institute, told Iran Focus, “Signs that the Bush administration would be willing to join Europe’s failing ‘carrot and stick’ approach to dealing with Iran’s clandestine nuclear weapons program, have now convinced the ruling theocracy that they get away with even more violations of their nuclear obligations without fear of reprisal”.

He said Iran’s ruling clerics were also encouraged by the signing of a nuclear agreement with Russia over the weekend.

Monday’s edition of the Washington Post cited senior US officials as saying that the Bush administration was close to a decision to join Europe in offering incentives to Iran, including eventual membership in the World Trade Organisation, as part of an agreement with Tehran to stop its proliferation threat.

Safavi referred to public statements yesterday by Sirus Nasseri, a senior Iranian official involved in the nuclear negotiations with the EU-3, as further proof that Iran was unwilling to negotiate on ceasing its uranium enrichment activities which the International Atomic Energy Agency, the United Nations nuclear watchdog, suspects to be part of a weapons program.

Nasseri yesterday repeated the stance taken by other senior Iranian officials in saying that Iran would never give up its enrichment program. Speaking to the Reuters news agency, he said that the EU must be prepared to compromise on this.

“Otherwise they will have to opt for a confrontation, as the U.S. seems to prefer, which would lead to an uncertain situation with unforeseeable consequences for everyone,” Nasseri said.

Safavi said that the regime was using the negotiations as a mechanism to buy time to secretly carry out nuclear weapons related activities in accordance with the order handed down by Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, who had decreed that the regime must be able to obtain the bomb by the end of the year 2005.

Safavi also criticised Russia’s latest nuclear contract with the clerical state and called it a green-light for the regime to continue its nuclear activities without fear of international action.

Russia signed yesterday a deal capping the $800 million project with the Iranian regime to provide fuel for its Bushehr nuclear plant.

“The EU’s appeasement policy has failed on all counts, be it human rights related, on Iran’s sponsoring of terror abroad, its meddling in Iraq, or its pursuit of nuclear weapons”, Safavi said.

“President (George W.) Bush had himself recently pointed out that the regime had hidden its nuclear program from the eye’s of the international community until it was revealed by the Iranian opposition”, he added.

In mid-February Bush called on Iran to adhere to its international obligations and called Iran’s possession of nuclear weapons “unacceptable”.

“Remember this all started when we found them enriching uranium in an undeclared fashion,” Bush said. “There was an Iranian group that brought forth the information and it was clear that they were enriching and yet they hadn’t told anybody, which leads you to wonder why they hadn’t told anybody”, he added.

The opposition National Council of Resistance of Iran first revealed the existence of secret nuclear sites in Iran in August 2002. The group has since made a string of stunning revelations about Iran’s covert uranium enrichment and other prohibited activities.

Safavi urged both the EU and the US to blacklist the Iranian regime by referring its nuclear file to the UN Security Council, rather than appeasing it by “offering the regime concessions for agreeing not to break international rules which they are legally bound by under terms of the Non-Proliferation Treaty “.

“The mullahs feel they can now dictate the terms of their nuclear treaty with the West. To stop the threat of nuclear weapons proliferation those dealing with the regime should stop resisting attempts to send Iran’s nuclear file to the UN Security Council after today’s IAEA Board of Governor’s session”, he said.

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