UN team unwelcome in Tehran, Mottaki whittles down overseas enrichment plan
Senior Iranian MP Alaeddin Boroujerd said Monday afternoon, Oct. 26 that the UN inspectors had carried out their mission to visit a newly-disclosed uranium enrichment plant and may leave Iran later in the day. debkafile‘s Iranian sources report that the nuclear watchdog team were supposed to have paid a second visit to the Fordu plant near Qom in the next two days after their first trip on Sunday. So either the Iranians cut the inspectors’ mission short or they were denied access to the suspected facility and aborted.
Earlier, as world powers waited on tenterhooks for Tehran’s reply to the IAEA director Mohamed ElBaradei’s overseas enrichment proposal, Iran’s foreign minister Manouchehr Mottaki came up with a new offer: “There are two options on the table… either to buy it or give part of our fuel for further processing abroad.”
He said a final Iranian reply would come within days.
debkafile‘s Iranian sources report: The idea Mottaki threw out was aimed at seeing how far the Islamic Republic could whittle down the original proposal to send 75 percent of its low-enriched uranium to Russia and France for conversion into unweaponizable fuel for a research reactor, without giving up its “inalienable right” to enrich its own nuclear material.
Iran was let off the hook of the Friday Oct. 23 deadline for its reply, although the US, France, Russia approved the deal on time. Mottaki took up the slack to try and push the powers and ElBaradei a bit further into accepting the reduction of overseas shipments and licensing Iran to import some more, a suggestion not included in the Elbaradei plan because it would violate UN Security Council Resolutions. In this way, Tehran hoped to let go of only a (negotiable) part of its enriched uranium – and so invalidate President Barack Obama’s plan to lose control of most of the enriched uranium it held in stock that could be used for making a nuclear device.
This new Iranian proposal boils down to a deal to break that stock down into consignments of, say, 100-200 kgs, each to be posted overseas over a period of months or even years.
This was confirmed by MP Boroujerd, the head of parliament’s foreign policy commission, who said: “Because the West has repeatedly violated agreements in the past, Iran should send its low enriched uranium abroad for further processing gradually and in several phases and necessary guarantees should be taken.”
He said this to Iran’s Arabic language al Alam television Monday.
Since Iran is known to produce 3,175 kgs of enriched uranium a day at its overt plant in Natanz, it would need 77 days to produce the 200 kg taken out of stock for shipping to Russia and France. This is the quantity Tehran proposes to purchase to keep its stock level, refusing under any circumstances to be deprived of a sufficiency of material for producing a nuclear weapon.
Tehran will accept the world powers-IAEA deal only if it can be finagled to meet this fundamental principle – a process Mottaki has kicked off.
How far are the US, Russia and France coordinated on standing up to Tehran’s dickering? Speaking after the Iranian foreign minister, a senior Russian official Sergei Ryabkov urged the exercise of patience with the Islamic Republic: “We should not give the impression that everything has stayed as it was. On the contrary, we need to give the Iranians positive stimuli.”