Posts Tagged 'Nuclear'

Weekly roundup

Additional articles and reports from the past week
“Iran is regional power even without nukes” (Haaretz)
Zvi Bar’el writes that the West should recognize Iran’s role as a regional power and focus its energies away from sanctions and toward engaging Iran as a partner in the “international club of decision makers”.

“A demand from Tehran” (Guardian)
The Guardian has obtained Iran’s letter to the IAEA stating that any nuclear fuel swap must be conducted through a simultaneous exchange within Iranian territory. The West is unlikely to accept these conditions.

“Syria affirms ties to Iran despite US calls” (Associated Press, Syria Comment)
Despite recent diplomatic overtures from the US, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad stood alongside President Ahmadinejad and spoke against US efforts to draw Syria away from Iran. Joshua Landis believes the US “overplayed its hand”, though Syria perceives the US position in the Middle East to be weak.

“What Europe can do to secure a deal with Iran”
Matthew Levitt urges the EU to help gain multilateral consensus for sanctions against Iran and to pursue measures to deny Iran access to key technologies (Europe’s World). Fiorello Provera, vice-chairman of the European Parliament’s Committee on Foreign Affairs, argues the EU must also “stand with Iran’s civil society” and demonstrate its commitment to human rights by hanging a poster of Neda Agha Soltan in the parliament building in Brussels (Today’s Zaman).

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“Enrichment efforts leave LEU stockpile vulnerable to airstrike”

“Enrichment efforts leave LEU stockpile vulnerable to airstrike”
February 18-23, 2010
     The IAEA’s strongly worded quarterly safeguards report on Iran revealed that Iran has transferred approximately 1,950 kg of LEU, over 90% of its known stockpile, from the Natanz Fuel Enrichment Plant to the aboveground Pilot Fuel Enrichment Plant. While the use of only a single cascade indicates a slow enrichment process, this amount could be used to produce almost 200 kg of 19.75% LEU, greatly exceeding ISIS’ estimate of 9.2-18.4 kg required per year to operate the Tehran Research Reactor (ISIS).
     Julian Borger calls the large transfer “provocative and risky”, as Iran’s LEU stockpile is now vulnerable to a potential airstrike. Some British analysts speculate that Tehran may be deliberately inviting an Israeli airstrike, while David Albright suggests the bulk transfer was the quickest way to conduct enrichment. Tehran may also be attempting to pressure the West by signaling its intention to enrich its LEU to 20%, which would bring Tehran significantly closer to weapons-grade uranium (Guardian).
     On Monday, Iran announced its intention to start building two new uranium enrichment facilities as early as this year (Associated Press). Meanwhile, Israel introduced a new fleet of Heron TP unmanned aerial vehicles capable of carrying out military missions as far as the Persian Gulf and Iran (New York Times).
ISIS | Guardian | Associated Press | New York Times

Weekly roundup

Additional articles and reports from the past week
Much Traction from Measured Steps: The Iranian Opposition, the Nuclear Issue, and the West (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
Patrick Clawson argues that Western leaders and Iran’s opposition Green Movement should take modest steps toward supporting one another’s interests in order to pressure Tehran on the nuclear issue and human rights.

An Analysis of Multiple Polls of the Iranian Public (World Public Opinion)
World Public Opinion outlines their methodology and explains their conclusions that President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s reelection may have been legitimate and that the majority of Iranians, including the majority of supporters of Mir Hossein Mousavi, do not seek regime change. Their research indicates that support for dialogue and nuclear talks with the US was not limited to Mousavi supporters.

“Opposition hardens line in Iran”
Despite their conciliatory tone in recent weeks, Green Movement leaders issued harsh criticisms of the regime. Mousavi stated that the “roots of tyranny and dictatorship remain” (AFP, New York Times), while Mohammad Khatami called Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei’s support for a single political faction “a betrayal of Ayatollah Khomeini, the revolution and Islam” (Rooz).

Quadrennial Defense Review and Ballistic Missile Defense Review (US Department of Defense)
The US Department of Defense outlines their perceptions of the Iranian missile threat.

“Iran’s potential about-face on LEU export deal greeted with skepticism”

“Iran’s potential about-face on LEU export deal greeted with skepticism”
February 3, 2010
     With President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad indicating Iran’s willingness to export part of its LEU stockpile after months of deadlock over the uranium export deal, the US responded cautiously by urging Iran to work through the IAEA. However, Ahmadinejad did not specify whether the LEU could be exported in a single batch as per Western demands, though Al Jazeera writes that opposition to the deal within the Iranian regime has eased. Ahmadinejad’s suggested timeframe of 4 or 5 months for enrichment differs from the Western timeframe of 1 year, which could allow Tehran to accuse the West of foot-dragging if the deal goes through (Al Jazeera).
     Julian Borger suggests that Ahmadinejad’s comments may have been part of an “internal debate being aired in public” or a more deliberate strategy to cause confusion and prevent international sanctions. Borger adds that with Iran having increased its LEU stockpile in the 4 months since the deal was first agreed to in October, the deal may no longer be as attractive to the West (Guardian).
Al Jazeera | Guardian

“Washington, Tehran both keeping door open for nuclear fuel deal”

“Washington, Tehran both keeping door open for nuclear fuel deal”
December 29-January 11, 2010
     A report by Laura Rozen indicates that neither the US nor Iran has given up on the uranium export deal, and one unnamed US source describes the question of whether the LEU will be exported in one or multiple batches as “just a logistical issue.” Rozen writes that Iran’s counterproposal to send its LEU to Turkey could lead to an agreement, potentially “in the very near future” (Politico). Tehran has also named Brazil and Japan among potential sites for the fuel swap and has stated it will enrich the uranium domestically unless its counterproposal is accepted within one month (Tehran Times).
     Washington is drawing discussion away from the need for harsh measures, such as gasoline sanctions or military action, and highlighting recent disruptions in Iran’s regime stability and nuclear program. One official states Iran will not be able to develop nuclear weapons for at least 18 months (Gary’s Choices, New York Times). US officials say that new sanctions will aim to force Tehran to the negotiating table, saying that “[s]anctions would not be an alternative to engagement.” The domestic unrest in Iran has raised US concerns about not harming Iranian citizens, and officials stress that sanctions would only target Iran’s leaders, particularly the Revolutionary Guards (Washington Post).
Politico | Tehran Times | Gary’s Choices | New York Times | Washington Post

“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”

“Expectations low for GCC role in resolving Iran nuclear issue”

“Expectations low for GCC role in resolving Iran nuclear issue”
December 15-17, 2009
     While the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) concluded their 30th summit by urging Iran and related parties to reach a diplomatic solution to the nuclear issue (Xinhua, Emirates News Agency), Nicole Stracke argues that the GCC lacks the unity and political leverage needed to affect Iran’s foreign policy, pointing out that previous Arab proposals for regional security structures and international uranium enrichment schemes have not been taken seriously by Iran. Stracke dismisses the GCC’s role in international negotiations as an effort by the GCC states to protect their own strategic interests in the event of a US-Iran deal (Khaleej Times).
      GCC efforts in the Iranian nuclear issue have included offering economic incentives to China and Russia to support sanctions against Iran [previously covered here], and some analysts have pointed out that the reluctance of GCC states to allow their territories to be used in a military campaign could complicate US pressure tactics against Iran (IPS).
Xinhua | Emirates News Agency | Khaleej Times | IPS