By Reza Khalili
May 18, 2010
In an effort to rebuke the Obama administration’s attempt for a fourth round of UN sanctions, and just when President Obama believed he had the agreement of Russia and China for such action, the Iranians yesterday announced an agreement with Turkey and Brazil for a nuclear swap.
The plan, originally offered in October of 2009 by the Unites States and other world leaders (5+1), was for Iran to exchange most of its enriched uranium (1200 kg) in return for higher-enriched nuclear fuel for a medical research reactor. After months of deliberation, the Iranian government declined the offer. The original arrangement called for the stockpile to be sent to Russia and then France for the conversion to fuel for a medical research reactor, which would then be shipped back to Iran.
Even though details about the new agreement, signed in Tehran, have not been made public, reports are that the Iranians will keep the stockpile in Turkey until such time that the higher-enriched uranium can be exchanged and shipped to Iran. Turkey will provide a guarantee to Iran that Iran will have access to its uranium material in case the West fails to provide the higher-enriched uranium in return. At the same time, Iran announced that this plan will not limit its current operation and that it will continue to enrich uranium at the 20% level.
There are several problems with what Iran is proposing: One is that the request, for a swap of 1200 kg of enriched uranium, was made over seven months ago. Iran’s stockpile, more than likely, has grown to an estimated 2,300 kg (in March, the IAEA said Iran’s stockpile stood at around 2,100 kg)—more than twice the commonly accepted amount needed to produce enough material for one bomb. So exporting 1200 kg of it will still leave Iran with enough material for one nuclear bomb; another is that keeping the requested stockpile in Turkey does not guarantee no access by the Iranians; and finally, Iran, in violation of the Non-Proliferation Treaty, is continuing its enrichment process by installing new centrifuges, which can enrich uranium six times faster and produce more enriched uranium from less raw material. At the same time, they are continuing with their plutonium projects in Isfahan (fuel manufacturing plant) and Arak (heavy water plant).
One would hope President Obama has, by now, learned that appeasing Jihadist will not work as he thought it would. This self-absorbed illusion to be the first president of the United States to break the ice and get Iran to shake the extended hand has got the better of our President’s judgment.
President Obama started his ill-advised approach over a year ago when he sent his greetings and secret letters to the Iranian rulers. He released five Quds Force commanders (captured in Iraq in 2007) to show he was in earnest. However, the Iranian rulers responded by taking more hostages (American hikers and many more Iranian/American activists, who are now suffering in Iran’s Evin Prison). The Iranian rulers went even further—interpreting these efforts by the U.S. Government as a weakness—and slaughtered innocent Iranians during their protests last summer. They even bumped up their nuclear enrichment activities by expanding to a 20% level, where before, they kept it at 3.5% in fear of a backlash by the West.
President Obama’s second track, which was to impose crippling sanctions in case Iran did not agree to his terms on their nuclear activities, now appears to be a complete failure—even as a watered-down resolution by the UN is facing difficulty with new maneuverings by the Iranian government.
While the White House is in a state of confusion, as to how to stop Iran with its pursuit of nuclear bomb project, the Iranians aren’t. They have mastered this game for the past three decades and as long as the West continues to move its red line, the Jihadist in Iran will get one step closer to the finish line.
Ayatollah Mohammad Bagher Kharrazi, the head of the Party of God/Hezbollah in Iran, recently called for a greater Iran that would rule over the entire Middle East and Central Asia, in an event that he said would herald the coming of Islam’s expected messiah. In a recent Friday prayer sermon in Tehran, another hardliner cleric, Ahmad Khatami, threatened the West that they better accept Iran in the “nuclear club” and warned the major powers that Iran could “endanger your entire world” in any future confrontation.
The question still remains: Will the West find the courage to not only stand up for the freedom of the Iranian people, but prevent a horrific future for itself and the rest of the world?