Iran: No problem with nuclear plan

President Ahmadinejad of Iran now says Iran has no problem with the plan to ship their uranium abroad for enrichment. This was the plan Iran had previously rejected, missing the year-end deadline, but apparently cooler heads have prevailed. US officials are skeptical, having been busy pushing for new sanctions. This story is from Al Jazeera

Iran: No problem with nuclear plan

Iran’s president has indicated his country may be ready to ship its uranium abroad for enrichment, in line with a UN-backed proposal.

For months Iranian officials have criticised the plan proposed by six world powers last year for Iran to send out the bulk of its low-enriched uranium to be processed and returned as nuclear fuel to power its reactor.

But on Tuesday, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Iran would have “no problem” doing so.

“Some people made a fuss about it. There is no problem. We will seal a contract and we will give you 3.5 per cent uranium to enrich it to 20 per cent levels in four or five months and return to us,” he said in an interview with Iranian broadcaster IRIB on Tuesday.

He dismissed concerns by “colleagues” that the West would not return the uranium, saying Iran would respond to that by continuing to produce its own enriched uranium.

“If they don’t return it, what will happen? We will be proven right, and then it will be proven that the agency [International Atomic Energy Agency, or IAEA] was not reliable and they will be discredited. Then we will be free to rely on ourselves for our activities.”

US response

The US has responded that Iran needs to inform the IAEA if it plans to go ahead with the deal and transfer its uranium abroad for enrichment.

“There is a forum to be able to resolve whether this is a serious offer and that’s through the IAEA. If Iran is serious, they can inform the IAEA that they are ready to accept the deal that’s on the table,” PJ Crowley, a US state department spokesman, said.

However, it remains unclear how much of a concession or acceptance Ahmadinejad’s comments represent.

His timeframe of four or five months for the uranium processing overseas appears a long way off from the one year that Western officials say it would take for the process – a failure to bridge that difference could allow Iran to accuse the West of foot-dragging.

He also did not say whether Iran was ready to ship out most of its uranium stockpile in one batch – another condition of the proposal designed to delay Iran’s ability to make a nuclear weapon.

The US and its allies have been pushing for a fourth round of UN sanctions to be slapped on Iran for not complying with UN resolutions over its nuclear programme, but Russia and China are not in favour of any new penalties.

Iran may be playing games, seeking to embarrass the Western powers, but regardless, Iran is within its rights to develop nuclear power. USA and its allies do not like that prospect, but their hypocrisy in nuclear matters knows no bounds. Just because they suspect Iran really intends to build nuclear bombs, under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, they have no grounds to interfere with what Iran is doing, unless it violates that treaty. That may happen eventually; one of the big problems with nuclear power is that having an operating nuclear power plant makes it relatively easy to make a bomb. The waste can be turned into a dirty bomb without any trouble, and making a nuclear explosive device is not much harder. It appears that Iran has decided to call the bluff, so it can go ahead with its nuclear ambitions, leaving USA and Israel without a leg to stand on. Israel may decide to take matters into its own hands, but it has no right to do so. That may not matter to Israel, since it is a leading rogue state, routinely ignoring UN resolutions and refusing to abide by or sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Israel wants to maintain its monopoly on nuclear weapons in the region, and it is hard to imagine what would deter it from acting if Iran proves serious about accepting this deal. Iran may have decided to take this route to box USA and Israel into a corner. Iran may be up to no good, but until nuclear power and weaponry is banned outright, there can be no good solution to this kind of quandary.

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