Posts Tagged 'Khamenei'

“Iran, US compete to set nuclear agenda ahead of NPT Review Conference”

“Iran, US compete to set nuclear agenda ahead of NPT Review Conference”
April 13-19, 2010
     Iran’s 2-day nuclear conference, titled “Nuclear energy for all, nuclear weapons for no one”, was attended by representatives of 56 countries, which exceeded the 47 countries represented in last week’s US Nuclear Security Summit but included fewer senior officials (Telegraph). President Ahmadinejad called for a new international nuclear agency to counterbalance the IAEA and argued that nuclear weapon states (NWS) should be suspended from the IAEA and its board of governors (Al Jazeera), while Supreme Leader Khamenei sharply criticized the US and Israel (PressTV). The IAEA is not listed among the conference’s participants and has not released any official statements, although Director Yukiya Amano was invited to attend (The National).
     Julian Borger describes last week’s nuclear conferences in the US and Tehran as “qualifying rounds” ahead of next month’s NPT Review Conference, where Iran will likely attempt to deflect attention from its own nuclear program to the failure of the NWS to disarm and Israel’s non-NPT status (Guardian). Barbara Slavin suggests that the US Nuclear Posture Review, which indicates that nuclear force may be used against Iran, has given Iran a “public relations tool” to try and focus global attention on US nuclear policy (Foreign Policy).
Telegraph | Al Jazeera | PressTV | The National | Guardian | Foreign Policy

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Weekly roundup

Articles and reports from the past week
“US seeks momentum with NPR, START ahead of NPT Review Conference”
The new US Nuclear Posture Review, the first to be fully unclassified, makes the following declarations:

“The fundamental role of U.S. nuclear weapons, which will continue as long as nuclear weapons exist, is to deter nuclear attack on the United States, our allies, and partners.”

“[T]he United States will not use or threaten to use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear weapons states that are party to the NPT and in compliance with their nuclear non-proliferation obligations”

Although the NPR declares Iran to be in “non-compliance with non-proliferation norms”, key questions remain over how to determine “compliance with…non-proliferation obligations” and Iran’s nuclear status, and the nature of the non-“fundamental” purposes of US nuclear weapons are unspecified (Examiner, Guardian).
However, some analysts argue the NPR and the newly signed START follow-on treaty give the US momentum and political credibility ahead of this month’s US Nuclear Security Summit and the May NPT Review Conference (Council on Foreign Relations).

“P5+1 press ahead with sanctions meeting”
The UN ambassadors of the P5+1 states met to discuss UNSC sanctions against Iran (BBC). China, while reiterating its call for continued dialogue, has confirmed it will participate in relevant discussions (Associated Press). Russian President Medvedev stated that he had “outlined [Russia’s] limits on sanctions” in discussions with US President Obama, and any new sanctions are expected to target Iran’s Revolutionary Guards (Guardian).
Iran restated its willingness to negotiate a nuclear fuel swap on Iranian territory (Reuters).

“Israel reaffirms nuclear policy amid growing attention to undeclared arsenal”
Israel has reaffirmed its policy of deliberate ambiguity over its undeclared nuclear arsenal (Global Security Newswire). The comments came as Israel moves ahead with plans to develop new civilian nuclear reactors despite challenges in finding international partners due to its status outside the NPT (ISN).
Prime Minister Netanyahu has reversed his decision to attend the US Nuclear Security Summit reportedly after learning Egypt and Turkey would call on Israel to sign the NPT, though US commentators believe the real reason is tensions with the US over settlements in East Jerusalem (Politico).

Can the CIA sabotage Iran’s nuclear project? (Agence France-Presse)
Dan De Luce writes that Iranian nuclear scientist Shahram Amiri’s defection has renewed speculation over CIA efforts to sabotage Iran’s nuclear efforts, though it remains unclear how much intelligence Amiri can provide. Covert US efforts have involved drawing human resources out of Iran and introducing faulty components into Iran’s nuclear supply chain.

“Khamenei supports Ahmadinejad’s campaign for more subsidy cuts”
Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei has voiced his support for President Ahmadinejad’s continued campaign to cut $40 billion in state subsidies on gasoline and other basic goods (New York Times). The parliament approved a $20-billion cut in January. The cuts could reduce Iran’s vulnerability to international sanctions on gasoline imports, though officials continue to insist that sanctions would be ineffective (Associated Press).

“Despite Iran opposition’s limitations, US conservatives push for regime change”

“Despite Iran opposition’s limitations, US conservatives push for regime change”
January 22-February 1, 2010
     Analysts disagree over the strength of Iran’s opposition Green Movement and its potential to bring about regime change. In recent weeks, opposition leaders such as Mir Hossein Mousavi, Mohammad Khatami and Mehdi Karroubi have each made conciliatory statements tacitly endorsing Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s presidency and shifting criticism away from Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei to other conservative clerics. While some suggest the government may be looking to resolve the domestic turmoil, Khamenei has reportedly not indicated any intention to compromise (New York Times), and the government announced that its recent executions of 2 protestors will soon be followed by 9 more (Al Jazeera).
     However, some US analysts see the Green Movement as a promising vehicle for regime change. Robert Kagan argues that regime change is now more likely than the prospect of Tehran giving up its nuclear program, and that a new government “not run by radicals with millennial visions” would be the “best nonproliferation policy”, even if they pursued nuclear weapons (Washington Post). Describing his switch from a “realist” to a neoconservative position, Richard Haass similarly argues that the West should emphasize human rights issues, open up technological and financial support to Iran’s citizens, and focus international sanctions on Iran’s leaders (Newsweek).
New York Times | Al Jazeera | Washington Post | Newsweek

Recent related posts:
“Green Movement uses language of reform but sparks hopes for revolution”

“Nuclear file central to struggle for power, legitimacy among Iran’s leaders”

“Nuclear file central to struggle for power, legitimacy among Iran’s leaders”
December 14-17, 2009
     Iran continues to announce counterproposals for a nuclear fuel swap amid growing domestic tensions between regime loyalists and opposition supporters. Shahram Chubin outlines the importance of the nuclear issue and foreign policy in defining and legitimizing the revolutionary government but argues that Western analysts have overlooked the influence of “moderate Iranian nationalists” hoping to normalize ties with the West. Chubin writes that the June elections, in which opposition candidates called for a more flexible posture on the nuclear issue, raised criticism of the hard-line approach. The regime, Chubin argues, now hopes that international talks will divert attention from its repression of domestic opposition without requiring any substantive concessions on the nuclear issue, thereby legitimizing its hard-line policies (Washington Quarterly).
     Ray Takeyh writes that while President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad had hoped that diplomatic success on the nuclear file would raise his domestic standing, Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei withdrew his consent after officials opposed the October uranium export deal. According to Takeyh, Khamenei’s decision was spurred not by “peripheral figures” such as Ali Larijani and Hashemi Rafsanjani (two influential conservative opponents of Ahmadinejad) but by a new national security committee including senior military and intelligence officials. Takeyh believes the rise of militant forces into senior positions will make a diplomatic solution less likely (Boston Globe).
Washington Quarterly | Boston Globe

Related posts
“Nuclear debate in Iran could mean progress despite West’s growing impatience”
“Reformists, conservatives pressure Ahmadinejad against nuclear deal”
“Iran counterproposal may validate Western skepticism of negotiations”

“Reformists, conservatives pressure Ahmadinejad against nuclear deal”

“Reformists, conservatives pressure Ahmadinejad against nuclear deal”
November 2 & 3, 2009
     Michael Theodoulou attributes Iran’s negative response to the IAEA proposal [previously covered here] to domestic political divides. Theodoulou writes that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is facing strong domestic pressure over his support for the IAEA proposal; the reformists fear successful negotiations with the West will boost Ahmadinejad’s legitimacy, whereas conservatives see Iran’s LEU stockpile as a vital source of leverage against Western powers (The National).
     Michael Slackman adds that Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei would likely avoid risking his domestic credibility by accepting the deal. Michael Axworthy believes reformist leader Mir Hossein Mousavi, who has criticized the deal, is using the nuclear issue to attack Ahmadinejad’s nationalist credentials. Trita Parsi and Alireza Nader state that Iran’s deep political divides could prevent even a deal that works to Iran’s benefit (New York Times). On Tuesday, Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei sharply criticized the US, declaring Iran would “not be fooled by the superficial conciliatory tone of the US” (Agence France-Presse).
The National | New York Times | Agence France-Presse

“Ahmadinejad bolstered by cabinet approval but still faces political troubles”

“Ahmadinejad bolstered by cabinet approval but still faces political troubles”
September 3 & 4, 2009
     Fredrik Dahl and Reza Derakhshi write that the Iranian parliament’s approval of 18 out of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s 21 cabinet nominees will allow him to take a hard line on the nuclear issue. The approved cabinet members included the new defense minister Ahmad Vahidi, who has been accused of involvement in the 1994 bombing of a Jewish center in Argentina. Ahmadinejad, who has recently been facing opposition from other conservatives [previously covered here], declared a “new era of constructive cooperation” between the government and parliament had begun and dismissed the threat of additional sanctions (Reuters). Borzou Daragahi reports that Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, who urged lawmakers to approve the nominees in order to demonstrate national unity, allowed Ahmadinejad to avoid a costly political battle (Los Angeles Times).
     However, Kamal Nazer Yasin argues that Khamenei views Ahmadinejad as “a loose cannon at best and a dangerously ambitious politician at worst”, citing anonymous reports and highlighting recent contradictions between the two leaders’ public statements on the post-election turmoil. Yasin writes that Khamenei initiated a successful truce with Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, who has supported the opposition movement [previously covered here], in order to balance against Ahmadinejad (ISN Security Watch).
Reuters | Los Angeles Times | ISN Security Watch

“Concessions, positive signals from Iran ahead of IAEA report”

“Concessions, positive signals from Iran ahead of IAEA report”
August 20-24, 2009
     Iran has allowed IAEA inspectors to visit the Arak heavy water reactor, lifting a year-long ban, and agreed to expand monitoring of the Natanz uranium enrichment site ahead of the IAEA’s upcoming Iran report. However, one Western official argues that Iran “always” makes concessions to the IAEA ahead of critical reports in order to avoid punitive action (Guardian). Reza Derakhshi reports that Western diplomats are skeptical of Iran’s latest concessions (Reuters), and a US official has stated that Iran “is still not in compliance with its IAEA obligations” (Reuters (2)).
     Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s decision to retain the “soft-spoken” and “levelheaded” Manouchehr Mottaki as foreign minister has been welcomed by Western diplomats as a sign that Tehran will not harden its stance on the nuclear issue. Ahmad Bakhshayesh argues that Ahmadinejad is seeking continuity in foreign policy amid domestic instability (Los Angeles Times). Michael Slackman also cites the appointment of Ali Akbar Salehi as head of Iran’s nuclear agency [previously covered here] as another sign that Ahmadinejad may be willing to enter international talks on the nuclear issue. Some analysts cautiously speculate that Ahmadinejad and Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei may be hoping to improve the economy by avoiding sanctions and regain credibility by resolving the nuclear issue, although political infighting in Tehran could limit the possibility of any such progress (New York Times).
Guardian | Reuters | Reuters (2) | Los Angeles Times | New York Times