Further setback to Iran nuclear diplomacy: Khamenei’s refusal to see nuclear watchdog director
The visit to Tehran Monday, Nov. 11, by Yukiya Amano, head of he Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency, was intended to show him meeting supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei as a signal that he approved of further efforts at an understanding to overcome the impasse reached last week in Geneva. This is reported by debkafile’s intelligence sources.
The Iranian leader’s show of goodwill would have been used by the Obama administration to persuade Israel, France and Saudi Arabia to stop fighting the draft accord on Iran’s nuclear program that was tossed out at the Six-Power negotiations with Iran last Saturday.
However, Khamenei’s brush-off for Amano put paid to that effort.
The White House failed in its initial search for an European leader able to make an impression on the supreme leader and get him to sign off on diplomacy for a nuclear deal. No volunteers willing to risk a snub stepped forward.
Iran’s Foreign Minister Javad Zarif then promised the Americans that if the IAEA chief came to Tehran, an audience with Khamenei would be set up.
But from the moment Amano set foot in Tehran Monday until he left, no one mentioned an audience. He was fobbed off with “a roadmap for cooperation,” which he signed alongside the head of Iran’s atomic energy commission Ali Akbar Salehi for a photo op.
This worthless piece of paper permitted IAEA visits to the uranium mines at Garchin and the unfinished a heavy water plant in Arak, but continued to withhold permission to inspect projects suspected of clandestine work on developing a nuclear weapon – for instance, the Parchin military complex, to which the IAEA has repeatedly been denied access to check on suspicions of nuclear-related explosion tests of warhead detonators.
A normally calm and collected official, Amano was so put out by the disrespect shown him by Washington and Tehran that he went on record Wednesday, Nov. 13 to remark pointedly that he had seen no changes in Iran’s nuclear activities in the three months since the election of Hassan Rouhani as president: Iran continued to enrich uranium up to the 20 percent level just as before, he stressed.
This dry comment exploded the optimistic assumption at the root of the Obama administration’s soft policy on Iran, namely that Tehran had assumed a new, moderate face, amenable as never before to talking through a deal on its nuclear program.
The IAEA director lifted just a corner of the veil concealing Iran’s clandestine nuclear activities. Not only had nothing changed, but contrary to suggestions put about of a slowdown, uranium enrichment continues apace at all levels, 3.5, 5, and 20 percent grade. And not one centrifuge has been dismantled. Centrifuge production has indeed been accelerated and the machines are being quickly installed at all the enrichment plants. The new centridfuges are not yet spinning, but they are standing ready to be switched on at any moment. Construction at Arak has also been put on fast forward.
The Iranian regime therefore stands poised ready for “a freeze” on its program for the sake of eased sanctions. But whether or not an understanding is concluded through dialogue, its entire nuclear weapons production machine is ready to go on full power at a moment’s notice.