Since the latest draft of the International Atomic Energy Agency’s resolution on Iran was made public Tuesday, Iran has wasted no time voicing its objections. Iran’s chief delegate to the IAEA, Pirouz Hosseini, said Wednesday: “We have never been involved in any nuclear weapons program … and the Americans don’t want to accept the fact.” Mr. Pirouz said: “The Americans have failed in Iraq, and it seems that it will be very difficult for them to accept a second failure.”
As the BBC reports, Iran accused the US of “bullying” the IAEA, warned that Tehran might end cooperation with the UN’s nuclear watchdog if Europe did not resist US pressure, and announced that it would resume production of nuclear materials once the case with the IAEA is resolved.
US representatives at a high-level IAEA conference in Vienna, Austria had insisted on full condemnation of Iran. But, this week, they agreed with France, Germany, and Britain to include language praising Iran for allowing outside inspections of many of its nuclear activities. As The New York Times points out, this is the second time the US has agreed to a weaker rebuke of Iran in order to assuage European fears of “alienating” the country. US Undersecretary of State John Bolton complained in a letter sent this week to the French, German, and British governments that their stance was hurting the effort to get Iran to comply with its promises for full nuclear disclosure, reports The Associated Press.
A Washington Times editorial, which describes the government in Tehran as “emboldened by the willingness of the EU 3 (Britain, France, and Germany) to run interference against Washington,” says: “The clock continues to tick on a successful diplomatic conclusion – and the hour is late.”
Given statements to this effect and the recent concessions the US has made, Iran’s threat to cease cooperation with the IAEA did not go over well in Brussels. The European Commission on Wednesday issued what EU Business calls a “veiled warning” to Iran not to cut cooperation with the IAEA, noting that Europe’s trade dialogue with Iran was linked to the nuclear issue.
For its part, Iran also took objection the fact that the draft resolution reportedly compares Iran to Libya, saying the two countries both got their nuclear equipment “from the same foreign sources.” The IAEA has praised Libya for renouncing its WMD program. Iran’s foreign minister Kamal Karrazi dismissed the comparision. “Libya has officially announced that it was pursuing nuclear weapons and this is a violation of the [Non-Proliferation Treaty], but Iran has not been pursuing nuclear weapons and [has] not violated the NPT,” he said.
The Tehran Times described the comparison of Libya and Iran’s nuclear programs in stronger terms, saying that director-general of the IAEA, Mohamed ElBaradei, “made illegal and double-standard remarks on Iran’s nuclear issue while inappropriately comparing Iran with Libya.” The English-language Iranian daily goes on to justify Iran’s threat to cut cooperation with the IAEA.
Careful observation of the course of events surrounding IranÕs nuclear dossier over the past year shows that the White House has been conspiring against Iran, perhaps with the help of IAEA Director General Mohamed ElBaradei and the European Union big three, France, Britain, and Germany.
In light of this, it is essential for Iran to withdraw from the process currently underway in Vienna until its nuclear dossier is examined technically and all sides fulfill their commitments.
BBC defense correspondent Jonathan Marcus writes that “Iran is presenting a fundamental challenge to the Bush administration’s diplomacy.” Mr. Marcus suggests that the strength of Iran’s reaction may provoke the Bush administration to stray from the more multilateral approach its European allies have encouraged it to take on the issue, leading to “a much more confrontational position.”