Tuesday, November 3, 2009

U.N. Asks the Iranian Regime for Quick Reply on Nukes

Tweet It!

The Associated Press

The head of the U.N. nuclear agency urged Iran on Monday to clarify its response to a U.S.-backed proposal that would have Tehran ship most of its nuclear material abroad for processing. Iranian officials sent mixed signals on the proposal with the foreign minister saying Monday that option still exists and a senior diplomat suggesting the opposite. The proposal would have Tehran export 70 percent of its enriched uranium — enough to make a bomb — and then have it returned as fuel for its research reactor. The contrasting messages appear designed to keep the international community off balance on how far Iran is ready to go in accepting the original proposal. Addressing the U.N. General Assembly, Mohamed ElBaradei said "a number of questions and allegations relevant to the nature" of Iran's program remained, and he called for confidence-building measures on all sides. "I therefore urge Iran to be as forthcoming as possible in responding soon to my recent proposal, based on the initiative of the U.S., Russia and France, which aimed to engage in a series of measures that could build confidence and trust," ElBaradei said in his final address before stepping down after 12 years as chief of the International Atomic Energy Agency.

The U.S. and other powers are concerned Iran may be enriching uranium for use in nuclear weapons, while Tehran insists its program is strictly for research and energy production. Iran's mixed messages also appeared geared toward pushing the plan's main backers into further talks, something those countries oppose as a delaying tactic. In his address, ElBaradei also dismissed the growing calls for sanctions to dissuade Iran from its nuclear ambitions saying that they "too often hurt the most vulnerable and innocent." He said the Security Council should instead focus on "conflict prevention and address the insecurities that lie behind many cases of proliferation such as mistrust and unresolved conflict." Some experts say Iran has little reason to trust the West and for that reason may be in no hurry to cut a deal. "Iran believes time is on their side for now," said Mustafa Alani, a regional analyst at the Gulf Research Center in Dubai. The dispute allows Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and his hard-line allies to claim the high ground as defenders of Iran's national dignity through its strides in nuclear technology. It also provides Ahmadinejad a chance to broaden support after June's disputed elections, because even his harshest opponents take pride in Iran's nuclear accomplishments. (Read more...)