Friday, December 30, 2005

Nuclear Rope-a-Dope, Part II

Over the past couple of days, we've been reporing on Tehran's apparent interest in a Russia's offer to enrich Iranian uranium at a facility inside Russia--a plan designed to end the international standoff over Iran's nuclear program. We have expressed serious reservations that this proposal will ever bear fruit; instead, Iran will likely use the Russian offer as a way to engage the west, forestall potential military action and advance its nuclear program. As we noted:

"If history is any indication, the Iranians will "study" the plan for a few months, then ultimately reject it, demanding complete control over all aspects of their nuclear program."

Perhaps the Iranians are operating on a shorter timetable, or simply laying the ground work for eventual rejection of the Russian plan. But a Reuters report indicates that Iran has not abandoned its desire to conduct its own enrichment efforts, despite its stated interest in the Russian option. The comment, which came from a member of Iran's Supreme National Security Council, probably reflects Tehran's "official" position on the subject. But I'm also guessing that Iran will sustain its "talks" with the Russians for at least a few more months and buy more time for its nuclear program.

And, since the Russian plan is the only western offer now on the table, the U.S. and European Union will continue to support this effort, hoping that Moscow can somehow broker a deal that would provide some measure of control and accountability over Iran's nuclear program. It's a fool's paradise, but (absent other options), the diplomats will keep playing the Russian card until Tehran finally rejects it, on their timetable.

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