Moscow Says Nyet on More Nuclear Aid

According to DEBKA-Net-Weekly‘s exclusive Washington and Moscow sources, Iran’s nuclear energy commission director Gholam al-Aghazadeh came away empty handed from his four days in the Russian capital on Wednesday, July 2. The Russians refused Iran fuel rods for its nuclear station in Bushehr before Tehran signed the Additional Protocol of the Non-Proliferation Treaty which permits UN inspectors to carry out surprise visits to nuclear sites. President Vladimir Putin thus kept his promise to President George W. Bush despite fears in Washington that he would bow to domestic pressure and go through with lucrative nuclear transactions with Tehran.

Back in the Iranian capital, Al-Aghazadeh advised his bosses to express willingness in principle to sign the document when the International Atomic Energy Agency’s director, Dr. Mohammed ElBaradai, visits Tehran on July 9. However, he should also be told that Tehran cannot function under the heavy international pressure exerted currently and needs time for a final decision. The UN official should be asked not to expect a reply before September, when the IAEA holds its next board meeting.

Moscow’s refusal was not the only setback the Iranians suffered this week.

British foreign secretary Jack Straw informed his Iranian hosts in no uncertain terms, when he visited Tehran this week, that if they fail to sign the Additional Protocol, the European Union will hold back a coveted trade agreement which is already drafted and ready to sign.

The result was to make the Iranian theocrats even more intransigent. Instead of playing a game of procrastination with the UN chief nuclear inspector, as advised by Aghazadeh, they decided to warn him that if he is coming only to demand their signature on the Additional Protocol, he might as well save himself a journey and stay in Geneva. He will, moreover, not be allowed to bring with him experts for taking soil samples from nuclear sites or travel outside Tehran.

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