Iran appears to be backing away from a proposed deal to resolve the crisis over its nuclear programme, Iranian media reports suggest.
A state TV channel said Iran wanted to import fuel for its research reactor, without sending its own enriched uranium out of the country. [continued…]
Last Wednesday in Moscow, the remaining illusions the Obama administration held for cooperation with Russia on the Iranian nuclear program were thrown in Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s face. Stronger sanctions against Iran would be “counterproductive,” said Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, just days after President Dmitry Medvedev said sanctions were likely inevitable. This apparent inconsistency should remind us that Mr. Medvedev is little more than a well-placed spectator, and that Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, who discounted sanctions in a statement from Beijing, is still the voice that matters.
This slap comes after repeated concessions—canceling the deployment of missile defenses in Eastern Europe, muted criticism of Russia’s sham regional elections—from the White House. Washington’s conciliatory steps have given the Kremlin’s rulers confidence they have nothing to fear from Mr. Obama on anything that matters.
And nothing matters more to Mr. Putin and his oligarchs than the price of oil. Even with oil at $70 a barrel, Russia’s economy is in bad straits. Tension in the Middle East, even an outbreak of war, would push energy prices higher. A nuclear-armed Iran would, of course, be harmful to Russian national security, but prolonging the crisis is beneficial to the interests of the ruling elite: making money and staying in power. [continued…]
The Iran Atomic Energy Organisation said on Monday it will continue to enrich uranium up to the five percent level or even to the higher 20 percent grade if talks on a third-party enrichment deal fail.
“The Islamic Republic of Iran… will continue its enrichment activities inside Iran up to the five percent level,” the official IRNA news agency quoted the organisation’s spokesman Ali Shirzadian as saying.
“But if the negotiations do not yield the desired results, Iran will start enriching uranium to the 20 percent level for its Tehran reactor. It will never give up this right.” [continued…]