Tehran sends Europe and U.S. scurrying

Iran's decision to restart its nuclear program prompted an emergency meeting of the U.N.'s atomic energy agency.


Aaron Kinney
August 10, 2005 12:20AM (UTC)

Salon editorial fellow Aaron Kinney looks at the recent developments regarding Iran's nuclear program.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) held an emergency meeting in Vienna today, one day after Iran restarted its dormant nuclear program. Iran rejected a proposal by Britain, France and Germany to give up its uranium enrichment program in exchange for a package of incentives that included access to the fuel and technology to run a peaceful nuclear energy platform.

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Newly elected Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said today that he was willing to return to the negotiating table, but he didn't offer any specific ideas for moving the talks forward, prompting President Bush to pronounce that his administration is "very deeply suspicious" of Iran's motives. Meanwhile, Ahmadinejad called the Europeans' latest offer "an insult to the Iranian nation" that treated Iranians like a "colony."

At the meeting in Vienna, an Iranian dissident who runs a Washington-based think tank called Strategic Policy Consulting told the agency that Iran has secretly built 4,000 centrifuges for the purpose of uranium enrichment. Alireza Jafarzadeh said reliable informants told him that Iran was using front companies to build the centrifuges without the agency's knowledge. Iranian officials countered that it had reported all its centrifuges. The agency was previously aware of only the 164 centrifuges at Iran's nuclear facility in Natanz, located 300 miles south of Tehran, according to the Associated Press.

And as if that wasn't enough bad Iran-related news, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld charged today that Iraqi insurgents have been getting some of their weapons from Iran, although he said he didn't know if the Iranian government was involved in the transactions.

The Washington Post took Iran's decision to mean that it has chosen "bombs" over "jobs" and leveled some harsh accusations at Tehran in an editorial today. "The real aim of the Iranian nuclear program is nuclear weapons, not electric power," said the Post's lead editorial. "Those in Washington and elsewhere who have always believed that the Iranians want nuclear weapons have a right to feel that their skepticism was justified."

The New York Times reported that the IAEA has not made a recommendation to the United Nations Security Council, the first step in any U.N. decision to impose sanctions on Iran. The head of the agency, Mohamed ElBaradei, said the IAEA's 35-nation board will decide how to respond to Monday's development after one or two more days of deliberation.


Aaron Kinney

Aaron Kinney is a writer in San Francisco. He has a blog.

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