27 Februar 2007

Kritik an Ahmadinedschads Haltung wächst im Iran

Iran's president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, came under fire from domestic critics yesterday for his uncompromising stance on the nuclear issue as the US and Britain launched a new diplomatic effort to agree harsher UN sanctions they hope will force Tehran to halt uranium enrichment.

Mohammad Atrianfar, a respected political commentator, accused the president of using "the language of the bazaar" and said his comments had made it harder for Ali Larijani, the country's top nuclear negotiator, to reach a compromise with European diplomats. The president made global headlines at the weekend by declaring that his country's quest for nuclear energy was an unstoppable train, adding to the sense of crisis as emergency talks got under way in London yesterday.

Critics from across the Iranian political spectrum took him to task for his "no brakes or reverse gear" remarks, bolstering claims in the west that his hardline position may be starting to backfire. "This rhetoric is not suitable for a president and has no place in diplomatic circles," said Mr Atrianfar, a confidant of Hashemi Rafsanjani, an influential regime insider and rival of Mr Ahmadinejad. "It is the language people in the bazaar and alleyways use to address the simplest issues of life."

"The brake exists to get the train safely to its destination," Mr Zahed wrote in the newspaper Etemad-e Melli. "Perhaps on the journey, we might find the track broken and are obliged to move our passengers by using the reverse gear to get to a safer track. Iran is a nation of earthquakes, flood and national disasters! You are our head. We should be able to trust you." Even the fundamentalist newspaper Resalat, usually a supporter of Mr Ahmadinejad, was critical. "Neither weakness nor inexperience and unnecessary rhetorical aggression is acceptable in our foreign policy," it said.

Wenn jetzt selbst von ansonsten treuen Anhängern Kritik an Ahmadinedschads Rhetorik gegenüber dem Rest der Welt geübt wird, scheint die Luft um ihn merklich dünner zu werden.

10 Februar 2007

Weniger technische Unterstützung für den Iran

The International Atomic Energy Agency said yesterday that it had suspended 22 of its 55 technical aid programs with Iran, giving Washington a modest victory in its efforts to isolate Tehran internationally in the hope of curbing its nuclear ambitions. The agency, in a report to its board, said it had also suspended a number of lesser activities, including three fellowships, participation in a training course and procurement of 15 pieces of equipment. Washington objected to the programs and projects as aiding Tehran’s nuclear efforts, which like many around the world could have military as well as civilian uses.

Ali Asghar Soltanieh, Iran’s ambassador to the agency, based in Vienna, denounced the suspensions as “a very dangerous game” that would have no impact on its disputed nuclear program. Rather, he said in an interview, they will undermine the atomic energy agency’s authority and many countries’ desire to join it. “This is a negative message to developing countries,” Mr. Soltanieh said. “It will put in jeopardy their incentive to become members” of the agency and the treaty that seeks to halt the spread of nuclear weapons.

The United States lobbied hard to have the nuclear agency cut roughly in half its 55 programs of technical aid to Iran, but it faced stiff opposition. Developing countries feared that the cuts would set a bad precedent that could threaten their own aid. An American official said Washington’s position on the disputed projects was similar to that of Britain, France and Germany.

On Friday, Mohamed ElBaradei, the agency’s director, issued a report to its 35-nation board detailing the suspensions called for by the Security Council. It said Iran participated in 55 projects, including 15 individual and 40 regional and interregional endeavors. It further said the agency’s secretariat had determined that cooperation should continue for 33 projects but end for 22 others, including ones meant to aid Iran’s development of nuclear power, its radiation processing of metals and plastics and its improvement of atomic management and strategic planning.

Mr. Soltanieh, Iran’s ambassador to the agency, said the suspensions would be likely to have large political repercussions and strengthen the hand of those Iranians who wanted to cut off all cooperation with the atomic agency. “This will give ammunition to those who are putting pressure on the government,” he said. “This whole thing is making a more poisonous environment.”

Ein sehr zweischneidiges Schwert, die Projekte auf Eis zu legen. Sicherlich ist es eine symbolische Botschaft an den Iran, seine Ambitionen zu überdenken, andererseits verliert die IAEO dadurch an Kontrolle über Irans nukleare Bestrebungen.

04 Februar 2007

Ahmadinedschad- ein orientalischer Prahlhans?

After decades of largely clandestine efforts, Iran is expected to declare in coming days that it has made a huge leap toward industrial-scale production of enriched uranium — a defiant act that the country’s leaders will herald as a major technical stride and its neighbors will denounce as a looming threat. But for now, many nuclear experts say, the frenetic activity at the desert enrichment plant in Natanz may be mostly about political showmanship. The many setbacks and outright failures of Tehran’s experimental program suggest that its bluster may outstrip its technical expertise. And the problems help explain American intelligence estimates that Iran is at least four years away from producing a nuclear weapon.

What the Iranians are not talking about, experts with access to the atomic agency’s information say, is that their experimental effort to make centrifuges work has struggled to achieve even limited success and appears to have been put on the back burner so the country’s leaders can declare that they are moving to the next stage.
To enrich uranium on an industrial scale, the machines must spin at very high speeds for months on end. But the latest report of the atomic agency, issued in November, said the primitive machines of the Iran’s pilot plant ran only intermittently, to enrich small amounts of uranium. And the Iranians succeeded in setting up just two of the planned six groupings of 164 centrifuges at the pilot plant. “It looks political unless they’ve made progress that we don’t know about,” said Mark Fitzpatrick, a senior fellow at the International Institute for Strategic Studies, a weapons analysis group in London.

Iran’s nuclear boasts come in the midst of an increasingly rancorous chess game between Tehran’s mullahs and the Bush administration over the aims of Iran’s nuclear programs, its role in Iraq and its ambitions to become the dominant power in the Middle East. The speculation about imminent conflict has grown so strong that President Bush’s new secretary of defense, Robert M. Gates, who is intimately familiar with Tehran’s nuclear ambitions from his days as director of the Central Intelligence Agency, declared on Friday, “We are not planning for a war with Iran.”

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who has become the face of Iranian defiance, is under growing pressure at home because of unemployment and the squeeze of economic sanctions — and President Bush’s advisers have said he may view a nuclear standoff with the United States as a way to help his standing. That, combined with evidence of problems at the pilot plant, suggest that the industrial push may be aimed as much at enriching Iran’s political leverage as enriching uranium. The Iranians insist their effort is solely to fuel nuclear reactors, a statement that in the recent words of R. Nicholas Burns, the under secretary of state for political affairs, “no country that has seriously looked at the evidence believes.”

Nicht nur, daß Ahmadinedschad innnenpolitisch unter Druck steht, auch sein offensichtliches Streben, aus dem Iran eine atomar bewaffnete Großmacht zu machen, scheint technologisch gesehen auf tönernen Füßen zu stehen. Daher bestehen seine Drohungen, insbesondere gegenüber Israel, auch viel aus Kraftmeierei und Großmannssucht, also aus heißer Luft.

02 Februar 2007

Iran spielt weiter mit verdeckten Karten

Iran has refused to let U.N. inspectors set up cameras at an underground plant where it is set to begin installing 3,000 centrifuges for full-scale enrichment of nuclear fuel, diplomats said on Friday. Tehran is expected to announce the major escalation in its uranium enrichment drive during Islamic Revolution anniversary celebrations running until February 11, jacking up tensions with Western powers which pushed through U.N. sanctions against it.

Iran's reported refusal to allow the watchdog International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to hook up cameras in the subterranean centrifuge hall at Natanz is not illegal as long as nuclear activity has not yet begun. But Tehran's move, following a ban on 38 of 200 inspectors designated to work in Iran, would up the ante in a showdown with Western powers and underline resentment over their bid to halt a nuclear program Iranian officials insist is entirely peaceful.

Vienna-based diplomats familiar with IAEA operations said Iran blocked inspectors earlier this week from installing surveillance cameras in the Natanz underground complex. ``Iran is not breaking its (non-proliferation) Safeguards Agreement with the IAEA here because nuclear activity has not begun in the plant,'' a diplomat told Reuters. ``But their behavior reflects the rising tensions. They have no incentive to be transparent since they feel the U.N. (sanctions) resolution is illegal, and they seem to want to approve these cameras as part of a negotiated settlement.''

The 3,000 centrifuges, if run nonstop for long periods in interlinked cascades that conduct the fuel production cycle, could yield enough fuel for one atom bomb within a year. The 3,000 are envisaged as the first stage of a planned 54,000. But analysts say Iran has yet to prove it can smoothly operate two cascades of 164 centrifuges each in Natanz's pilot wing, let along the many more cascades it would need to run in tandem underground to enrich more than token amounts of uranium.

Still, the United States and Israel have voiced concern that 3,000 centrifuges will bring Iran to the nuclear ``point of no return,'' and have prompted talk about pre-emptive military strikes on Tehran if sanctions do not halt its activity.

Wieder einmal läßt sich der Iran nicht in die Karten gucken und gibt zu Spekulationen Anlaß. Ob es Nationalstolz ist, der dieses Verhalten begründet, oder tatsächlich die Absicht waffenfähiges Uran zu produzieren, bleibt bisjetzt unklar.