Iran is not prepared to discuss halting its uranium enrichment program in response to Western demands but is proposing instead a worldwide control system aimed at eliminating nuclear weapons, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s top political aide said in an interview Thursday.
In a set of proposals handed to the permanent members of the U.N. Security Council and Germany on Wednesday, Iran also offered to cooperate on solving problems in Afghanistan and fighting terrorism and to collaborate on oil and gas projects, Mojtaba Samareh Hashemi said. A longtime confidant of the president’s, Samareh Hashemi is reportedly being considered for the key post of first vice president in Ahmadinejad’s new government.
As described by Samareh Hashemi, Iran’s offer is similar to a call by President Obama in April to eliminate the world’s nuclear weapons. Later this month, Obama is scheduled to chair a special session of the U.N. General Assembly’s annual meeting aimed at seeking consensus on preventing the spread of nuclear weapons, rather than targeting individual nations such as Iran and North Korea. Ahmadinejad is also scheduled to attend the U.N. meeting and has said he is ready to debate Obama publicly.
“It’s not really responsive to our greatest concern, which is obviously Iran’s nuclear program,” State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said of Tehran’s package of proposals. “Iran reiterated its view that as far as it is concerned, its nuclear file is closed. . . . That is certainly not the case. There are many outstanding issues.” [continued…]
Editor’s Comment — As usual, Iran’s position is portrayed as being one of intransigence, yet at the core of the conflict here is a dispute over whether one side can claim the “right” to dictate the parameters of engagement. The US and its allies are in effect saying: we are the ones who get to set the agenda.
Is 2009 a real change from 2008? I’m still waiting to spot the difference.
The specific nuclear clause in Iran’s proposal is this:
Promoting the universality of NPT mobilizing global resolve and putting into action real and fundamental programmes toward complete disarmament and preventing development and proliferation of nuclear, chemical and microbial weapons.
How serious a proposal is this?
In a way it’s clearly simply a rhetorical challenge. It’s a way of calling Obama’s bluff. Was his Prague declaration more than a piece of campaign-style fluff? A way of offering Europeans a feel-good moment that would make his tour Kennedyesque? Or was he serious?
If nuclear disarmament is ever going to reach the negotiating table then the Middle East’s sole nuclear power is first going to have to come out of the closet. And this goes to the heart of the current impasse: Iran’s opponents insist that the nuclear file cannot include discussion about Israel’s nuclear weapons. Iran must curtail its nuclear aspirations (even though we don’t actually know what they are) while Israel is at liberty to conceal its nuclear actualities.
When I started blogging back in January, one of my early posts questioned the belief that Obama’s election had ended talk of military action against Iran. I thought this view was “almost certainly premature,” because I didn’t think a rapid diplomatic breakthrough was likely and I knew that advocates of a more forceful approach would soon come out of the woodwork and start pushing the new administration to get tough with Tehran.
Well, I hate to say I told you so, but … Right on cue, Wednesday’s Wall Street Journal had an op-ed from former Senators Dan Coats and Chuck Robb and retired Air Force general Chuck Wald, recommending that Obama “begin preparations for the use of military options” against Iran’s nuclear facilities. They argue that keeping the threat of force “on the table” is the only way to achieve a diplomatic solution, but they also make it clear that they favor bombing Iran if diplomacy fails. In their words, “making preparations now will enable the president, should all other measures fail to bring Tehran to the negotiating table, to use military force to retard Iran’s nuclear program.” [continued…]
Foreign Minister Sergey V. Lavrov on Thursday all but ruled out imposing new sanctions against Iran over its nuclear program, brushing aside growing Western concerns that Iran had made significant progress in recent months in a bid for nuclear weapons.
Mr. Lavrov said he believed that a new set of proposals that Iran gave to European nations on Wednesday offered a viable basis for negotiations to end the dispute. He said he did not believe that the United Nations Security Council would approve new sanctions against Iran, which could ban Iran from exporting oil or importing gasoline.
“Based on a brief review of the Iranian papers, my impression is there is something there to use,” Mr. Lavrov said at a gathering of experts on Russia. “The most important thing is Iran is ready for a comprehensive discussion of the situation, what positive role it can play in Iraq, Afghanistan and the region.” [continued…]