Middle East

Middle East

Iran’s Nuclear Strategists

Election posters for the minister of defense and the president of Iran
The World in His Hands: Iranian Minister of Defense Ali Shamkhani has close ties with Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and former president Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani (Photo: AFP/Getty Images).

Tehran will announce its official stand toward the recent resolution of the Board of Governors of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in the next few days.

A trusted source from the government has told Entekhab that a five-member commission has been formed to review the possible repercussions of Iran’s acceptance or refusal to abide by the IAEA resolution. The commission will be solely responsible for making the final decision on the future of Iran’s nuclear program.

The members of the commission will include: Kamal Kharrazi, the foreign minister; Ali Younessi, the minister of information; Ali Shamkhani, the minister of defense; Ali Akbar Velayati, the representative of the supreme leader; and Hassan Rohani, a member of the High Council on National Security. They have been given total power to decide on Iran’s stand following the Sept. 12 IAEA resolution, called the “Safeguards Additional Protocol,” by studying Iran’s position in the international community and the international pressure on Iran.

According to a pre-agreed decision, the verdict of the commission, whatever that might be, will constitute Iran’s position toward the IAEA resolution. The various political factions in the country will be expected to respect and support that decision.

This informed source, who considers this decision to be the most difficult that the Islamic Republic has had to take in the last 15 years, added that “the final pronouncement of this commission will be announced to the authorities, and then to the public, by the end of this week.”

At the same time, published reports are speaking of the Islamic Republic’s decision to abide by the Additional Protocol, although it has set some conditions.

Tehran is ready to abide by the Protocol and agree to its conditions if that would mean Iran could conduct further nuclear research, continue uranium enrichment for use in the Bushehr nuclear facility within the confines of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, and if it could exclude from the inspections areas deemed too sensitive for security or political reasons.

While Tehran expects that its pronouncements will calm some of the storm of the past few weeks since the IAEA made its most recent pronouncements, the international uproar continues.

Mohamed ElBaradei, the Egyptian director general of the IAEA, announced to journalists in Vienna yesterday that the conclusions of the inspection team due in Iran by tonight or tomorrow morning [the team arrived on Oct. 2] will carry historical significance in verifying or disproving the accusations leveled against Iran and its nuclear activities.

The head of the IAEA, in a Sunday interview with the American news network CNN, expressed his hope that a peaceful resolution to the current crisis over Iran’s nuclear activities could be found, and conveyed his concern over the possibility of another war in the Middle East in case the problems are not resolved.

Hours after that interview on CNN, Kamal Kharrazi responded to ElBaradei’s veiled threats in a lecture at Columbia University in New York. “Using the language of force against Iran is doomed to failure,” Kharrazi said.

In his speech, Kharrazi warned that politicizing the situation would be a damaging move that would destroy the dialogue and cooperation necessary to overcome the crisis.

Kharrazi further emphasized the lack of any clandestine nuclear program in Iran and declared that Iran has had a transparent relationship with the IAEA.

The White House, however, seems to have lost its patience, to the extent that even the unofficial pronouncements of Kharrazi elicited comments from the U.S. Department of State. That Monday, not even a day after Kharrazi’s lecture, Richard Boucher, a spokesman for the Department of State, declared in his daily press conference that if Iran did not cooperate with the IAEA Governing Council’s Sept. 12 resolution, the file on Iran’s nuclear activities would be taken before the U.N. Security Council.

Boucher, who was speaking as if the AIEA is an agency under U.S. governance, claimed that Iran had been given enough time to sign on to the Additional Protocol and that Iran’s intransigence will definitely bring the matter to the Security Council.

Political analysts believe that the declaration of Iran’s official stand in the next few days, and Iran and Washington’s continued attempts to win international support for their respective sides, will deepen the crisis.

Undoubtedly, Iranian diplomats and other international delegates from Iran will have a difficult few weeks ahead of them.