Friday, November 27, 2009

IAEA Censures Iran Over Nuclear Site- Refers File to UNSC

The board of governors of IAEA today by a vote of 25-3 passed a sharply worded resolution censuring Iran over the construction of its new Fordu uranium enrichment facility near Qum, expressing serious concern and directing Iran to immediately shut down the facility. The resolution noted that Iran had broken international rules by building the new site and has referred the matter to UN Security Council for further consideration.

The resolution was drafted by US, Britain, France, Russia, China and Germany. This was IAEA’s first resolution on Iran since 2006. At the time, the IAEA also referred Iran’s nuclear file to UNSC, which resulted in three sets of economic sanctions against the country. Today’s resolution was supported by both China and Russia, also a first since 2006. 25 counties voted in favor of the resolution. And only three countries voted against it- Cuba, Venezuela and Malaysia, with five abstentions and one member absent (among the abstentions was Brazil. Iranian President Ahmadinejad had just visited the country and Tehran expected it to cast a no vote).

The Chinese and Russian support are seen as critical for any future action by the UN Security Council over Iran’s nuclear program. The Washington Post reported yesterday that China agreed to join the US in voting for the resolution after two high-ranking US officials, Dennis Ross and Jeffrey Bader, in a recent visit to Beijing persuaded Chinese leaders that lack of a unified international stand against Iran would prompt Israel to bomb Iranian nuclear facilities. An Israeli attack, the US representatives argued, would throw the entire Persian Gulf and its oil supplies into chaos, an outcome not in anyone’s interests, including China’s.

Yesterday, IAEA chief Mohamed Elbaradei told the board of governors that investigating Iran’s nuclear intentions has come to a dead end due to lack of support by the Iranian government. IAEA, he said, could not verify that Iran’s nuclear program in peaceful in nature.

Today’s resolution brings Iranian nuclear program closer to a full-fledge crisis. If Iran disregards the wide support for the resolution, it will prompt a new round of severe economic sanctions and/or military attack in the coming months. The government can probably avert the crisis by accepting the latest IAEA proposal which calls for a LEU swap agreement, whereas IAEA gets full control of Iranian LEU, shipping it to Turkey and in turn would deliver higher-grade uranium fuel to Iran for use in its nuclear reactor in Tehran (please see a previous post on the subject).


Anonymous said...

Let's hear it for Malaysia, Cuba and Venezuela-Hurray!

Anonymous said...

bending over is not an option for iran. that is what the west wants and tat is not what they are going to get!

Nader Uskowi said...

Dear Anonymous,

Your support of the government or love of the country need not prevent you from analyzing what happened here. The IAEA vote is a low point in Iranian diplomacy, and you cannot blame everything on the West.

First, the Iranian ambassador to IAEA did sign off on the original proposal during October Vienna talks (I don’t think he was an agent of the West). Then the political maneuvering started in Tehran, each politician trying to our-radicalize another, and the government pulled off from the agreement. This behavior angered the Russians. Why did Iran agreed to the preliminary proposal if it did not have any intentions to ratify it? This is a sign of a government in disarray. The left hand does not know what the right hand is doing.

Second, the Iranians had assured their “allies” (Russia and China) that they do not have any intentions to make the bomb, and Natanz output was to be used as fuel for the future nuclear reactors. Then came the disaster of Fordu plant, seriously undermining the government’s assurances to its allies that it was not involved in any secret program. The government did not have so forcefully made such assurances. Did they think that such constructions would be forever kept secret? This is probably what tipped the balance against Iran for the Russians and the Chinese. They were not sure anymore that the government’s assurances to the contrary is believable and they might after all been after making the bomb.

Lastly, you label a large group of countries as the “West,” by saying Iran should not bend to the West. Is Russia or China part of the West? Is Brazil part of that West? The Iranian government made huge propaganda on its warm relations to that country, and Kayhan ran large banner headlines that Brazil would defend Iran’s rights to uranium enrichment. Iran could not even get them to vote no.

This is indeed a low point for Iranian diplomacy. Not that Iranian diplomats do not know rules of the game. It is more a government in disarray, unable to choose its priorities, unsure on how to respond to the changing political landscape.

Anonymous said...

theire is several reason behind this resolution one iaea directly involved in political manner that is defenatly vary bad out put for them by asking iran to stop inreachment plan after 6 years talk back same zero point that mean iran will choose what ever she want too. second of most iran did not agreed in any way to give his leu to any country for storage they must be stupied to do so if their is exchang should be in iranian soil to do so .third they prepeared themself for other section this is big one and they will retaliate directly to counter section againest them , most i believe the immediatly increase center fuses to 20000 or 25000 which was negotiated last years to put new genaration of ir3 which is 6 times faster than ir2 center fuses they are currently used on nuclear bomb i believe they have at least 50 to 60 nuclear weapon from 1991 to 2001 complated by step by step will be seen in iran way the attetuded of confedence is much greater that west and usa plus israel that mean their are complate plan in future action againest any one retaliation from iran cut complated with iaea unilatral cut un nation and creation of new un security platform in future with other country so on.

Anonymous said...

Dear Nader,

Your claims here are a little on the ridiculous side. Repeating western talking points ad nauseum does not make them facts.

1. Which Iranian ambassador signed off on the IAEA agreement? Can you produce the document? Can you produce a statement from anywhere in the Iranian foreign service, or atomic agency, or executive branch, or leadership, or Majles, stating that Iran had agreed to the terms? Or has Iran now outsourced its communications operations to the Hillary and Barrack show?

2. You complain that Iranian politicians are trying to 'out-radicalize' one another. You should meditate on that every other time you bemoan the lack of democracy in Iran. It seems that at times the importance of people's wishes quickly gives way to what Western propaganda insinuates the Russians or Chinese may have liked to see happening.

3. There is nothing disastrous about Fordu. It is a completely legal, rational, and necessary installation. The government did not wish to keep this plant secret, which is why they announced it in September.

4. "The West" does, in actuality, exist. It is China's biggest trading partner, and just over a decade ago was supplying Russia's entire operating budget. These world powers' international relation are mostly focused on maintaining their planet-wide oligopoly on security affairs, while at the same time keeping an increasingly technologically savvy third world indebted and tightly integrated into their own economic systems as sources of cheap raw materials and human capital.

5. The Russians and the Chinese have read the NPT, and realize very well that IAEA was designed to provide nuclear security via cooperation and the free flow of peaceful technology between states, not as an audit firm for US Pentagon planners. The Chinese and the Russians appreciate that it is prudent to build robustly defended backup facilities, whenever your main, declared facilities are regularly threatened with impunity by outlaw states with long records of reckless wars. The Chinese and the Russians aren't in the least offended or even surprised at the existence of Fordo, which is why the much hyped special session of the security council in Pittsburgh ended in a big zero for Obama. The US spent a huge amount of political Capital, quite probably in the form of yet-or-never-to-be announced economic and monetary policy concessions to the Chinese to get this done. While this is a loss for Iran, it also leaves the US with less cards to play.

5. Lula is infamous as being the most accommodationist left-wing president of the south. The fact that the US can't coerce this important economic partner, and even co-collaborator along with Canada and France in running the Hatian military junta just a couple of years ago to vote yes to an initiative where it's abstention would have no discernible effect, in a body which until recently enjoyed a tradition of passing all it's resolutions via consensus speaks volumes about how much Iran's foreign policy has moved ahead since Ahmadinejad's election in 2005. Prudent observers won't have trouble imagining the results of a reversion to Khatami era appeasement policies.

Your points about Iranian infighting and out-maneuvering and it's detrimental effect to Iran's position in the world are not invalid, but they apply to 'opposition' figures, the 'green movement', and expat intellectuals rather than government officials.


Nader Uskowi said...

Masoud jan,

Thanks, as always, for a very thoughtful and well-reasoned post. Notwithstanding my disagreements with you, your contributions indeed makes this blog richer and I thank you for it and look forward to many more comments by you.

On your last paragraph: I am dumbfounded that you blame this setback on the opposition. Of course it is easy to blame others for one’s faults, but such worldview would only impede the country’s march forward. This is the crux of the problem: the Iranian government is creating conditions for the country’s increasing isolation. The opposition did not loose Russian or Chinese or Indian vote, the government did. And the government acts like they are not all that unhappy about the vote. There must be a feeling that an Iran against the rest of the world is a stronger Iran. This is a delusion. Iran needs to change course and normalize its relations with the outside world.

On your points:

1. The Vienna talks last October were attended by Iran’s ambassador to IAEA and at the end of the meeting, ELBaradei issued the proposal based on the consensus in the meeting. Iranian government never denied that at the time (the Russians have since said that Iranian representative did indeed agree with the proposal. Iran never denied that claim either). After Larijani’s attack, Mottaki changed his position on the very same question a number of times. The government did not have a coherent plan or a clear goal as to what it wanted to achieve in Vienna talks, and it paid dearly for it. I do believe the disarray shown in Tehran did indeed help solidify Russian and Chinese vote.

2. This government cannot hide behind people’s wishes for its blunders. The government never offered a full explanation to the people as to what it wanted to do in Vienna, and the contradictory positions taken by its spokesmen actually confused people, the international community and probably themselves, as to their true intentions. Here lack of clarity was taken around the world as lack of sincerity and it badly undermined Iran’s position.

3. The government disclosed Fordu after the word had got out. Let’s not kid ourselves. The government could have said years ago that it needed more than one UEF (although it would have been hard to justify the amount of LEU produced now, in a country that does not have a running reactor). By hiding it, it undermined its position. It is not the crime but the cover up that gets you!

4. Am I missing something? Iran’s blunders are making it isolated in the world, and you are offering an explanation that the security and economic system of the west is to be blamed. Seems to me you are ready to blame everything, but the culprits.

5. You are saying that China was paid off, US buying off her vote. And Russia and China actually appreciated the building of Fordu. Then why they voted that Fordu be closed immediately? And you believe China will make a serious national security/international relations move through some economic incentives offered by the US? This is a very simplistic view. Not that you look at the issues in a simplistic way, but you are constantly looking for any clues or excuses to avoid blaming the government for its blunders.

6. I guess you’re happy with Brazil’s abstention. The Iranian government is not. Their propaganda machine made such a big deal out of Lulu’s comments on Iran’s nuclear program just a couple of days prior to the vote.

Thanks again and take care.

Anonymous said...


1. I can only conclude by your response that Iran never did formally agree to any arrangement. If you read the statements of Iranian diplomats, as opposed to the US State Department spin on them, they agreed to the principles that would form the basis of an agreement. If I am mistaken on this point, please produce a statement from an Iranian official, as a opposed to one from a Russian offical, or a document drafted by an Iranian official, as opposed to an Egyptian one, correcting my misuderstanding.

2. The government did offer a full explanation of what it was trying to do, not only to the Iranian people, but to the entire world. Iran was trying to buy 20% enriched Uranium from an outside source for a medical/research reactor in Tehran. It is the IAEA's duty, and the responsibility of all member states to facilitate such transactions. Instead of responding to Iran's initial request, western countries came up with a convoluded scheme of re-enriching Iranian LEU. Instead of rejecting this proposal out of hand, the Iranians sent their ambassador to Vienna to extract the best deal he could from the US and report back to the principals involved in the decision, and later sent the head of their atomic agency to clarify further technical incentives that were also offered in the deal. It turns out the deal was a lemon, designed from the get go not to be fulfilled. The Iranians made a counter offer of Uranium exchange, which was markedly ignored. The Iranians then publicly rejected the offer, since it became clear there was no will to negotiate with them in good faith.

3. Let's not kid ourselves, the Iranians revealed Fordu to the IAEA in a letter on a Monday, Barrack and co made their big annoncement on the following Thursday. There was no crime or cover up. Iran does not need more production capacity, but it is under the constant threat of illegal attack and redundancy measures are taken to lower the imagined feasiblity of an attack and help avoid a war. Investing in Uranium technology is not hard to explain: there is a world wide demand for uranium and enrichment services, investing in fuel infrastructure would allow Iran to participate in this market, whearas investing in reactors without pre existing fuel capablity may just leave it with absolutely nothing.

4. You make no point of substance here, but you what you write does recall editorials found in the New York Times during Mossadegh's oil nationalization campaign of the early fifties.

5. I did not say the Russians and the Chinese appreciated Fordu, I said they appreciated the rationale behind it. They are definitely not worried about it, as the director of the IAEA has declared it to be nothing more than 'A hole in a mountain'.
Yes, I do beleive China would sell out Iran in a UN forum for concrete concessions from their most important trading partner. Maybe i'm just naive to the ways of the world.

6. I am impressed with Lula, but i am by no means completeley happy with his vote. At the same time I am not going to lose much sleep over it, as it is largely a symbollic gesture.They will do better in the future as trade increases. Iran has been able to stop resolutions in the Security Council before and may be able to do so again.


Anonymous said...

Means nothing, Iran has to let the dice role... It will play out to Irans benefit.

Anonymous said...

With regards to your pre-amble, I do beleive Iranian expatriates have a significant role to play in international affairs, as all expatriate communities do. The pattern pursued by the vast majority of Iranian-American speakers, writers, and activists has been to willfully manipulate and misrepresent the history and current events of the region in a way to advance the narrow politics of some faction of Iran's internal power structure, or else in a way that serves Western hegemonic ambitions. Lacking in most of the intellectual output of too many of these Iranians is any concern for how their actions can negatively impact their own country, and worse than that, any commitmen to truth.

Why this is so, I cannot say, but it is quite disheartening and a change is needed. I completely agree with one of the sentiments you express though; It is completely fruitless to blame one's own shortcomings on others.

Take care,