Saturday, October 16, 2004

Iran: No Signs of Backing Down

The AP is reporting that Iran remains committed to continuing down the road towards developing nuclear weapons.

Iran said Saturday it would reject any proposal to stop uranium enrichment for nuclear fuel, the central part of a package Washington's European allies are proposing to avoid a showdown over Iran's nuclear program.

The European countries notified the United States on Friday that they intend to offer Iran a package of economic incentives next week in hopes of persuading the country to permanently give up uranium enrichment, a technology that can be used to make nuclear weapons.

While the U.S. administration did not endorse the offer to Tehran, they also did not try to stop the Europeans, said a U.S. official, who spoke Friday on condition of anonymity. The U.S. is pushing for U.N. sanctions against Iran.

"Iran will not accept any proposal which deprives it of the legitimate right to the cycle of (nuclear) fuel," state-run television quoted Hossein Mousavian, a top nuclear official, as saying.However, Mousavian, Iran's chief delegate to the International Atomic Energy Agency, said his government would study any proposal that would allay concerns over its nuclear program as long as it respected Iran's right to enrich uranium.

I mentioned in a previous post that it is highly unlikely Iran will agree to any significant compromise that would prevent them from developing nuclear weapons. They might be willing to consider delaying it or, perhaps, making and breaking an agreement to delay progress in the program. However, the Iranians believe that going nuclear is a vital strategic interest and are unlikely to negotiate that away for any price.

Update: The Washington Post has more on this, here. The article contains this cheerful section:

The initiative emerged not only because the Europeans want to try at least one more time, but also because of the potential difficulties of winning agreement at the IAEA meeting next month and then at the U.N. Security Council if Iran does not comply, European envoys said. Non-aligned countries such as South Africa, Brazil and Malaysia fear that any move against Iran would set a precedent limiting their potential to develop nuclear energy programs, thediplomats said.

"It's one thing to say we'll go to the Security Council," said a European informed about the new diplomacy, "and another thing to get there."

That's what I call determination...