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ORIGINAL FRENCH ARTICLE: Le nucléaire iranien de nouveau devant le conseil de l’AIEA

by By Cathy Ceïbe

Iran’s Nuclear Program before the IAEA once again

Translated by John O’Neil

Translated Saturday 11 March 2006, by John O’Neil

The thirty-five member International Atomic Energy Agency Board of Governors met Monday and Tuesday in Vienna to go over agency director Mohamed El Baradei’s report on Iran’s nuclear program. These meetings were to determine whether the Board of Governors would send Iran’s nuclear dossier once again to the UN Security Council, opening the way for eventual sanctions against Teheran.

This option, which the US has strongly urged, would weigh heavily on the diplomatic work already undertaken although up to now a viable compromise satisfactory for all parties has not been reached.

Last week’s talks in Moscow about the Russian proposal ended with mixed results. The Iranian delegation, though favorable to the Russian compromise of enriching uranium for Iran on Russian soil, has nevertheless continued to assert its right to minimal production on Iranian soil - for peaceful purposes as allowed by the Non-Proliferation treaty.

The international community categorically rejects this position. Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hamid Reza Asefi said on Sunday that this position is a matter of disagreement between Iran and Europe. Teheran requested last Friday’s meeting between representatives of the EU3 (France, Germany and Britain), and Ari Larijani, the chief Iranian nuclear negotiator. The meeting reached the same impasse, both sides standing firmly on their principles.

The examination of El Baradei’s report is not likely to clear up the trouble. If the text that was made public on 27 February underscores the Iranian authorities lack of cooperation with the IAEA, it also reveals that the agency was also unable to specify the exact nature of the nuclear program.

The split remains unresolved. On the one hand, Teheran is defending its right to pursue a peaceful nuclear program. On the other hand, the EU3 and the US believe that the civilian nuclear program is concealing a military project and refuse to accept the Iranian position. Ultra-conservative Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s scandalous declarations and disturbing attitude serve to strengthen their resolve.

Sanctions, that Washington has long called for, would have no dissuasive effect. They would only serve to feed the tensions in the region, even as US-occupied Iraq drifts toward civil war. For the time being, the US has not won everyone over on this question.

In addition to Russia, Beijing, also a permanent member of the UN Security Council, remains opposed to sanctions. “China hopes Iran can resume negotiations as soon as possible with the European Union and negotiations with Russia,” declared Chinese Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing on the sidelines of the annual meeting of the National People’s Congress : “The important thing is to resolve the problem through diplomatic means, peacefully and appropiately.”

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