Monday, November 2, 2009

Iran Not Ready to Approve Nuclear Deal – Despite Russian Pressure

Iran is seeking changes in the proposed nuclear deal worked out in Vienna earlier this month. The Iranian representative to the Vienna talks had tentatively agreed to ship much of the country’s stockpile of low-enriched uranium (LEU) to Russia and France for reprocessing to higher-grade fuel required for Tehran’s research reactor. The government now wants to directly purchase the higher-grade fuel without shipping its LEU abroad.

Meanwhile, Britain and Russia demanded that Iran give a prompt response to the proposed deal. British Foreign Secretary David Miliband told reporters during a joint press conference with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Moscow today that both countries want to see a “prompt response” from Iran regarding Tehran’s research reactor.

Russia’s Lavrov went a step further and said Moscow was counting on Tehran to approve the Vienna deal.

“This meeting ended in Vienna with an agreement… which we are counting on all the participants, without exceptions, to approve, including Iran,” Lavrov said [AFP, 2 November].

Tehran’s final approval of a deal tentatively agreed upon by its own representative in Vienna has come under attack inside Iran by influential conservative politicians, including Majlis Speaker Ali Larijani. The attack from the right has created a no-win situation for Ahmadeinejad’s government. If it rejects the agreement they would run the risk of alienating Russia, their only true ally among the major powers. The rejection would also dim any immediate hope for grand bargain-type reconciliation with the Obama administration.

Khamenie is believed to oppose any serious reproachmont with the US. As a result, the conservative politicians do not believe Vienna’s nuclear agreement is vital for Iran. They rather continue playing the nuclear card by keeping the stockpile of LEU in Iran, with implications for the country’s ability to build a nuclear weapon in short order.


Anonymous said...

Iran should not bend over to western demand, instead, should show goodwill by opening up to IAEA volunteering for more routine checkups. No where in the NPT it is statet that a new-comer should be obedient to the demand of superpowers to show goodwill, nor does it make sense.

Mark Pyruz said...

Nader, Mousavi and his green movement have even come out publicly rejecting the deal, as it now stands, so it's not just the hardliners that have come out in opposition. Opposition and skepticism is being voiced from all ends of Iran's political spectrum.

One suggestion now being floated is that Iran's LEU be shipped out after nuclear fuel has been successfully delivered to Iran. This arrangement would, in theory, only cause a delay of a few months for the LEU transfer being proposed by the West (which is Jan. 15), and would address Iran's own legitimate confidence-gaining concerns.

I'm inclined to agree with another blogger, that Iran doesn't need this deal as much as the West thinks it does, and that any potential threat of sanctions do not figure into their decision making, the way some US foreign policy officials believe they do.

Anyone familiar with the way Iran has responded to threats and demands over the past thirty years, should in no way be surprised by Iran's current position in this ongoing nuclear negotiation. And it just may be that privately, a political consensus has not been achieved with which to present Khamenei the means of rendering a decision. After all, Iran is not a totalitarian state, as some may like to suggest. In the meantime, who knows? Maybe better terms will come along. This now seems to be Iran's way forward.

Nader Uskowi said...


I doubt very much if Mousavi’s and the Green movement’s stand on nuclear deal would be a serious factor in government’s decision to reject or accept the proposed nuclear deal. The rift we need to pay attention to is among the conservative politicians. Iran’s representative to Vienna talk was a mid-level bureaucrat and could not possibly have agreed on the proposed deal on his own. There is a very strong tendency within the current government to use this opportunity to strike a “grand bargain” with the US. Khamenei is against such grand bargain. His east-ward looking foreign policy precludes, or at least minimizes the importance, of the normalization of relations with the US. The fight undergoing in Tehran is not just about the nuclear deal, but the larger question of Iran’s future relations with the West, and particularly with the US. If one believes it’s best for Iran’s national interests to continue the status quo, then this nuclear deal needs to be rejected. If one thinks that Iran’s national interests dictates taking advantage of Obama’s coming to power in the US and striking a “grand bargain” with the new administration, then working out a nuclear deal, with some reasonable adjustments and revisions, is the way to go.