02/10/2009

Iranian show of force

The international scene was marked this week by heavy tensions on the Iranian nuclear issue. Indeed, Monday, September 21, Iran revealed the existence of a nuclear site in Qom at the IAEA. Following this, at the G20 in Pittsburgh, Barack Obama, surrounded by his French and British counterparts, threatened Iran with sanctions if it does not bend to the international monitoring of its nuclear program. The three powers are also opposed to uranium enrichment by Tehran. As an answer, earlier this week, Iran then fired missiles of short and long ranges, the latter able to reach Israel and even some European cities.

Thursday at the Geneva negotiations of the P5 +1 (the five permanent Security Council and Germany) with the Iranian representatives against all odds seem to have lead to some results. The winning strategy was to take the Iranian statements on the development of civilian nuclear power literally, and to help them in achieving it. France and Russia both declared to be ready to enrich uranium destined to Iran’s civil nuclear.
But all this can only occur if the IAEA meets and tests the good will of Iran to open its facilities to control, especially the site of Qom. The United States has left two weeks to Iran to make a step and suggested they were no more there to « talk for the sake of it. » President Obama, however, gave a positive tone to the negotiations started yesterday in Geneva, speaking of a « constructive » dialogue. It has also to be noticed that Iranian and U.S. officials met face to face for the first time since the rupture of their diplomatic relations.

Meanwhile, contrary to its habits on this subject, the Israeli government kept silence. He remains under pressure from a widely concerned public opinion about this issue, which demands clear answers on national security. But analysts do not exclude a preemptive Israeli attack on the suspected nuclear sites, as was done in 1981 in Iraq and in Syria in 2007.

The Iranian authorities have thus well maneuvered this week because, despite gestures of unprecedented provocation, the civilian nuclear program Iran has received the backing of major powers. However, many uncertainties still many remain regarding the real aims of the Iranian nuclear program. The coming weeks will surely tell us a little more. Once again, the ball is in Iran’s court.

N.J.O.