The uranium swap charade in Iran enters the next round. Last Tuesday, President Ahmadinejad said in an interview on State TV that the suggested nuclear deal “was acceptable”. At a surprise attendance at the Security Conference in Munich, his Minister of Foreign Affairs Manouchehr Mottaki talked in the night owl session with Sweden’s Foreign Minister Carl Bildt. Mottaki’s midnight small talk and his subsequent statements raised eyebrows, though, especially when he claimed that an agreement could be reached in a “not too distant future.”
Yesterday, Mottaki also met with the new Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency Yukiya Amano for discussing Iran’s nuclear program. While Mottaki was optimistic about the talks, Amano wasn’t. “There was not a new proposal. We exchanged views,” he told reporters after the meeting. In particular, Mottaki had apparently not conveyed the good news to Amano that his president was willing to swap Iran’s low-enriched uranium. “I didn’t receive the counter-proposal,” Amani said.
Meanwhile, important powers within the country strike back. According to the Mehr News Agency, Iran’s speaker of the Majlis Ali Larijani yesterday called the whole swap “a swindle.”
“They (the Western powers) say that you (Iran) must provide fuel for the Tehran reactor the way we say and, if you don’t do this, we will punish you.
“But they know this is a political swindle and that they are trying to ensure Iran’s enriched uranium is removed from the Islamic republic.”
So, the power struggle within Iran’s complicated regime is not over yet. It might even intensify in the preparation of the festivities on the occasion of the 31st anniversary of the Islamic Revolution next Thursday, 22 Bahman, when again violent mass demonstration for and against the regime have to be expected.
Update at 9:30 GMT: Maybe, Larijani’s outcry has already brought Ahmadinejad to terms. Speaking at the exhibition of Laser Science and Technology Achievements, he announced that he has asked Ali Akbar Salehi, the country’s nuclear chief, to begin with uranium enrichment up to 20%.