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.