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Wednesday, August 23rd 2006

Ready To Do What?

If you haven’t heard the response from the Iranian government concerning incentives to stop uranium enrichment did not come with the end times (or even the testing of a nuclear bomb). Instead, Iran is ready for serious talks.

Iran’s nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani delivered the written response to representatives of the five permanent Security Council members plus Germany, which drew up the package of incentives for Iran to renounce uranium enrichment and reprocessing activities.

“Iran is ready for serious talks with the 5+1 group from August 23 over the offered package,” the student Isna news agency quoted Larijani as telling the envoys.

“We prepared the response to the package with a positive view and even tried to open a way for fair talks by interpreting the many cases of ambiguity logically and positively,” he said.

He called on the world powers that backed the offer to “return to negotiations”, adding that Iran “is ready to play its role as a responsible country”.

But he did not elaborate on what was in the written response, and made no direct reference to an August 31 deadline for Iran to freeze enrichment or risk UN sanctions.

Jibber jabber. Since the initial reports things have cleared up, and it appears the response addresses nothing about Iran halting enrichment. The French actually took a hard line,

Iran must stop uranium enrichment before negotiations on its nuclear program can resume, French Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy said.

The “long and complex” Iranian reply to the United Nations Security Council yesterday didn’t include a response to the “ambitious proposals” in an incentives plan aimed at persuading Iran to stop producing the nuclear fuel, Douste-Blazy told reporters in Paris today. Any return to talks with Iran “is linked to the suspension of enrichment activities,” he said.

The 20-page document has about 100 questions that Iran’s government says are intended to clarify “ambiguities” in the European Union-led incentives, state-run Fars News reported without mentioning a specific reply to the offer. A suspension of enrichment would be rewarded by the construction of a light-water nuclear reactor for Iran, powered by uranium produced in Russia.

There’s virtually no chance of that, me thinks. I still have never been satisfied why the Iranian turned down the Russian proposal. Sovereignty?

With these responses I don’t think anyone in the west can think Iran wants nuclear technology merely for solely commercial uses, and like Bernard Lewis, this Daily Mail piece (via Drudge) talks about how a nuclear armed Iran is simply unacceptable.

[W]hy shouldn’t Iran have nuclear bombs to deter attack from the ‘Great Satan’, America, let alone the two ‘Little Satans’, Israel and Britain? Sounds reasonable. But that pre-supposes that the Iranian regime is reasonable.

The mullah-mafia lied through their teeth for 18 years, denying they had a nuclear programme, despite their obligations under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

And all the evidence shows that they are lying now when they say they only want nuclear power for ‘peaceful energy purposes’, despite sitting on some of the largest oil reserves in the world.

But, alas, there’s nothing which we would recognise as ‘reasonable’ about President Ahmadinejad, the small, bearded blacksmith’s son from the slums of Tehran – who denies the existence of the Holocaust, promises to ‘wipe Israel off the map’ and who, moreover, urges Iranians to ‘prepare to take over the world’.

It goes on to talk about how Ahmadinejad’s religious fanaticism should scare everyone. Stuff that has been largely covered, but here we are again bashing in the point.

I don’t think we should’ve expected anything else from Iran, in terms of a response. A weak response calling for further talks. It is a fine move by them. Uranium enrichment continues and despite France and the US’s responses, delaying can only further show the strains in the world alliance “against” Iran.

For instance even though the 5+1 are working on a response to Iran’s response, there are already signs of strain. China and Russia’s rhetoric already basically dismisses sanctions against Iran, even if it won’t give up its nuclear ambitions.

The Foreign Ministry said Wednesday that it would be premature to discuss sanctions against Iran over its nuclear program, signaling a cautious approach a day after Tehran responded to an international package of proposed incentives to stop enriching uranium.

“To speak of any sanctions in relation to Iran is premature” because the UN Security Council’s Aug. 31 deadline for Iran to halt uranium enrichment or face the risk of economic and political sanctions has not passed, ministry spokesman Mikhail Kamynin said, Interfax reported.

Just give them WTO membership and stop haggling them on human rights! They’ll sign off on sanctions and maybe even military options.

Or maybe not.

The anti-American nationalism so palpable in Russia today is rooted in the 1990s, the decade of Boris N. Yeltsin, whom many Americans credit with ending Soviet totalitarianism and introducing the country to democracy. Russians have a different take on those years. They remember the chaos; the economic contraction; the extreme poverty; the robber barons who, with the connivance of the government, made billions after taking over state-owned industries at bargain-basement prices; and the Yeltsin family’s rampant corruption. Rightly or wrongly, they associate these bad experiences with the United States. As one Russian official told me, “We followed your advice, and look where it landed us.”