Monday, February 27, 2006

Mixed Messages

The Associated Press has obtained a copy of an IAEA report on Iran's nuclear program. According to the report, Iran appears determined to expand its uranium enrichment program, which could result in the production of nuclear weapons.

The report will likely be a key piece of evidence when the IAEA Board of Governors takes up the Iran nuclear issue at its meeting next week. Sources indicate that the document may influence any recommendations that the IAEA makes to the UN Security Council, which will also address Iran's nuclear program in the near future.

In a sense, the IAEA report is encouraging, since its assessment matches what the U.S. (and other western governments) have been saying for some time: Iran is determined to enrich uranium because it offers one of the most viable options for developing nuclear weapons.

Of course, the real question is what the IAEA will do with its information, and what recommendations--if any--it will forward to the UNSC. The IAEA has a long history of missing, ignoring or even tolerating nuclear efforts by various rogue states. And, with Iran still proposing some sort of "compromise" enrichment program with Russia, there is the possibility that both the IAEA and the UNSC will give "diplomacy" more time to work.

Barely 24 hours before the IAEA report was leaked, Tehran indicated that it had reached some sort of compromise with Moscow on the enrichment issue. But Iranian negotiators also indicated that some conditions still had to be met. One of those conditions reportedly calls for a dual-track enrichment program, with some Iranian uranium being enriched in Russia, and the rest in Iran.

The nuclear rope-a-dope continues.

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