Friday, September 25, 2009

Russia’s “Serious Concern” over New Enrichment Facility

Russian President Dmitriy Medvedev said today the reports that Iran is building a second uranium enrichment is a cause for "serious concern."

"Information that Iran has for several years already been building a uranium enrichment plant near the city of Qom, without the IAEA's authorization, has, naturally, caused serious concern among all the participants in the summit, including the Russian Federation. The construction of the plant runs counter to the demands of the UN Security Council to the effect that Iran should stop all uranium enrichment activities,” said Medvedev during a news conference in Pittsburgh at the sideline of the G-20 Summit.

Medvedev said the construction of the new uranium enrichment plant was conducted in "secret," which he said was "the worst thing about this situation."

"We must create comfortable conditions, so that Iran starts cooperation, and create a system of stimuli; there is such a thing as freezing uranium enrichment in return for freezing sanctions. But if, at the time of the meeting of the group of six [1 October 2009], Iran does not demonstrate the desire to cooperate, then other mechanisms could come into play,” Medvedev said.

Russia is expected to support severe economic sanctions against the country, such as an international ban on the sales of gasoline to Iran, if the Iranian position does not change by the time the group of six meet on October 1st.

Informed sources in Washington say that the US intelligence detected the new enrichment facility near Qum some three months ago. The White House shared the information with the Russians in the days leading to this week’s gathering of the leaders in New York to attend the UN General Assembly. On Monday 21 September, Iran informed IAEA that it was indeed building a new enrichment facility.


Anonymous said...

How many undisclosed nuclear sites does Russia have? I would guess many...

Nader Uskowi said...

Unfortunately the issue at hand is not the country's rights to construct any number of nuclear facilities for its civilian power-generating programs. Within that context, Iran did not commit any violation of IAEA rules and still had some one year to disclose the work on the new facility near Qum.

But the issue has become political, and not a national right issue. The UN Security Council has passed three resolutions regarding Iran's enrichment program. The construction of the new unit in Qum is against those three resolutions. This is what Russia was objecting to. Quite frankly the Russians were caught off guard by the revelation that Iran was indeed constructing a new facility. They did not expect that.

The Iranian leadership can continue to insist that the issue is the country's right to have the new unit. Without Russia's support, I don't think the argument will get them off the hook.

Politics is not the science or the art of legal moves, but an art of building consensus and alliances to move one's national interests forward. Iran is taking a wrong road. Loosing allies, instead of recruiting newer ones; this is not a successful strategy. But I guess that's the way this government operates. Look what they are doing internally. Even a former president and a former prime minister during the sacred war are now "enemies." Their "us" circle, both internally and internationally, is rapidly getting smaller.

The big looser in these miscalculated moves would be the Iranian nation. Why a second plant at the time of so much international mistrust?

Wasn't 3,000 centrifuges at Natanz enough to produce enough uranium fuel to run Bushehr and few more Bushehrs that Iran does not even have it now? If they were affraid that the israelis would hit Natanz, couldn't they his the new unit as well? Their logic is beyong comprehension.

Mark Pyruz said...

Actually, there are logical explanations for multiple enrichment sites- in certain Iranian minds, that is. For one, the Qom site appears better suited for defense. Another, the new site could be better suited to medium enrich uranium, possibly powering Tehran's research reactor. It could also be part of an overall plan of making Iran nuclear "capable", a posture to which Japan adheres to.

True, Iran is rapidly facing similar diplomatic circumstances to that which it faced during the Imposed War. For the Ahmadinejad/IRGC faction, which is in power, this cannot be considered unexpected or possibly even an unintended development.

Russia siding against Iran, too, is not an unexpected development. They have always abandoned Iran whenever advantageous.

We have yet to see how China will figure into the Oct. 1 meeting. True, their initial position is opposition to further sanctions, and they have urged caution in portraying Iran's Qom disclosure in the same light as the West. But China has a doctrine of "Harmonious Development," which prescribes that it stays out of the way of the other great powers and avoid political adventurism while it grows its economy. The Chinese might well be susceptible to US and UK pressure to move against Iran if the outcome of the forthcoming 5 + 1 talks is disappointing. We'll just have to wait and see.

The same revolutionary ideals of self-sufficiency and sense of- for lack of a better phrase- moral courage, that sustained the Islamic Republic during the Imposed War, are returning to the forefront during this ongoing dispute over the nuclear issue. Moreover, the revolution did not end in 1980 for certain important military leaders now in power, nor did the Imposed War end for them in 1988.

Unless the brakes are put on by at least one of the parties involved, it runs the risk of breaking into a condition of open hostilities- i.e. a war. From what we've seen from the post-election behavior of the Ahmadinejad/IRGC faction, it looks unlikely it will be Iran that is the first to back down. Anyway, it would be a surprise if they did. Who knows, maybe a diplomatic miracle will take place Oct. 1st in Geneva. Again, unlikely, given the fact that it will contain nuclear negotiators and not heads of state or even foreign policy heads of government. Maybe such will be upgraded with subsequent follow-up meetings. However, the overall tone going into the first meeting makes such a development seem remote. We'll just have to see, Nader.

Nader Uskowi said...

Mark, I agree. October 1 will be only the beginning of a series of meeting, with final decision not expected before the end of the year, the non-official deadline offered by Obama adminstration.

I am not all that certain, however, that the revolutionary ideals of self-sufficiency and sense of moral courage, that sustained the Islamic Republic during the Imposed War, are returning to the forefront under the new ruling group. I agree that IRGC leaders are major part of the new governing elite, but these are not the Pasdaran of the Imposed war. They are multimillionair nouveaurich controlling vast segments of the Iranian economy. Their "revolutionary" zeal seems to be a cover for power grab.

Fascinating times in Iran!