Counterproductive Sanctions Policy

Iran’s new Foreign Minister and head of the country’s atomic energy organization had announced yesterday that Iran has now set up a special facility at Esfahan’s Uranium Conversion Plant to manufacture fuel plates for the Tehran Research Reactor (TRR). According to Salehi, the country has now stockpiled 40 kg of up to 20% enriched uranium. TRR will be fed soon with the plates. Salehi stresses that “[A]ctually the West’s attitude made us reach the point.” Hence, the result of the West’s counterproductive policy of denying Iran, a signatory to the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT), its rights.

That Iran would not bow under pressure should have been self-evident for the suspicious world powers. After Iran had asked the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in June 2009 for help in purchasing running out fuel for the TRR which produces mainly medical isotopes for the diagnosis and treatment of cancer patients the IAEA and permanent members of the United Nations Security Council plus Germany, P5+1, suggested a swap deal where Iran would ship most of its 3.5% (low) enriched uranium (LEU) to Russia while receiving, after an unspecified period of delay, up to 20% enriched LEU produced in France. Iranian counter-proposals (due to lack of trust) of keeping its LEU on Iranian soil or ship it to Turkey (later laid down in the Tehran Declaration of May 17, 2010) were denied by P5+1, and UN sanctions decided and implemented.

It’s not clear at all whether Salehi’s recent report of success is true or rather another canard. The latter is most likely. There are plenty of problems with the purity (or rather, contamination with molybdenum) of Iran’s LEU. But, Iran needs a better set of cards for the upcoming talks of the Vienna Group in Istanbul on January 20 (or 21); and considering the embarrassing fact that Ambassador to the IAEA Ali Ashgar Soltaniyeh’s invitation to certain European and non-aligned countries, Russia and China, but not the U.S., UK, France or Germany to tour some of Iran’s nuclear facilities has been declined by the Europeans.

In particular regarding the latter Salehi is already at risk of gambling away his quite reputation as one of the more thoughtful politicians in president Ahmadinejad’s government. It is the IAEA which demands more transparency to do its work properly. And only they have the respective experts. Confidence building has to be through the IAEA, by Iran mplementing the Additional Protocol, for instance.

Last modified January 9, 2011.

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