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    Entries in iranian enrichment (2)

    Wednesday
    Dec162009

    Another Iranian Nuclear Negotiator Resigns

    by MEIR JAVEDANFAR in Tel Aviv

    On Tuesday December 15th, Dr Mohammad Saeedi, the deputy head of planning for the Atomic Energy Agency of Iran (AEOI) and a member of Iran's nuclear negotiation team for the past five years resigned.

    Saeedi is the second senior member of AEOI who has resigned since the reelection of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in June this year. The first was Mohammad Reza Aghazadeh, who was the head of the organization.

    Although no official explanation has been provided, it is quite possible that Saeedi's resignation could be related to the infighting currently taking place within the Iranian regime.

    After Ahmadinejad's reelection, Iran's supreme leader Ali Khamenei started a purge in the Iranian government. Many of those who were reformists or moderate conservatives were pushed out.

    For those who survived the cull, Iran's refusal to accept President Obama's recent offer, and the impending sanctions and isolation which it will bring, could be a huge disappointment. This is especially true for Iran's nuclear negotiating team.

    Dr Saeedi would have seen how, for years, Ali Larijani, Iran's senior nuclear negotiator masterfully delayed major sanctions for Iran by negotiating with the EU and Javier Solana.

    Since Larijani's resignation in 2007, Iran's position has significantly worsened. His replacement, Saeed Jalili is far less capable in terms of diplomatic skills. Furthermore, Supreme Leader Khamenei does not want to make any compromises. If anything, Iran is now far more provocative than before. See Ahmadinejad's announcement that his government plans to build 10 new enrichment facilities, in complete defiance of UN resolutions.

    Under these circumstances, Iran's nuclear negotiation team has become all but redundant. Dr Saeedi would be forgiven for thinking his job is done.

    Thursday
    Nov262009

    Iranian Nuclear Negotiations at "Dead End"

    VIENNA (AP) -- The head of the International Atomic Energy Agency said Thursday that his probe of allegations that Iran tried to make nuclear arms is at ''a dead end'' because Tehran is not cooperating.

    Mohamed ElBaradei also criticized Tehran for not accepting an internationally endorsed plan meant to delay its ability to make such weapons.

    The unusually blunt comments appeared to be a reflection of frustration four days before he ends his tenure leading an agency that has proven unable to overcome Iran's defiance and ease international concerns that it may be using a civilian nuclear program as a cover for plans to make weapons.

    ''There has been no movement on remaining issues of concern which need to be clarified for the agency to verify the exclusively peaceful nature of Iran's nuclear program,'' ElBaradei told the opening session of the IAEA's 35-nation board of governors. ''We have effectively reached a dead end, unless Iran engages fully with us.''

    ''Issues of concern'' is the IAEA term for intelligence and other information available to the agency indicating that Tehran has experimented with nuclear weapons programs, including missile-delivery systems and tests of explosives that could serve as nuclear-bomb detonators.

    Since revelations of a secret Iranian nuclear program surfaced eight years ago, much of ElBaradei's energies have been spent on trying to nudge Tehran to meet international demands that it freeze uranium enrichment and cooperate on other issues meant to ease fears of its nuclear aims.

    Iran started stonewalling the agency over a year ago over the ''issues of concern,'' saying there was nothing to investigate because the allegations were false.

    ElBaradei has emphasized the need for talks instead of threats in engaging Iran. He has criticized the U.S. for invading Iraq on the pretext that Saddam Hussein had a nuclear weapons program, which has never been proven. That -- and perceived softness on the Iran issue -- has drawn criticism from the U.S. and its allies that he was overstepping his mandate.

    But ElBaradei's comments Thursday left little doubt that -- just days before his departure -- he was most unhappy with Iran.

    ''I am disappointed that Iran has not so far agreed to the original proposal'' involving removal of most of Iran's enriched stockpile, ElBaradei told the meeting.

    Tehran's approval ''would greatly help to alleviate the concerns relating to Iran's nuclear program,'' he added.

    The plan approved by the six world powers negotiating with Iran over the past few months would commit Tehran to ship out 70 percent of its enriched uranium for processing into fuel rods for its research reactor in Tehran. That would help allay international fears by removing most of the material that Iran could use to make a nuclear weapon.

    It would take more than a year for Tehran to replace the enriched material, meaning it would not be able to make a weapon for at least that long.

    Iran says it is enriching only to power a future network of nuclear reactors. But because enrichment can also produce fissile warhead material, its program has raised concerns. Iran continues enriching despite three sets of U.N. Security Council sanctions meant to make it freeze that activity and has build an enriched stockpile that could arm two nuclear warheads.

    Initially, Tehran appeared to favor the plan. But in recent weeks it has offered modifications that have one thing in common -- its refusal to ship out most of its enriched stockpile. That effectively kills the plan, with the West refusing to accept anything else than an Iranian commitment to export the material.