Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Curtain Getting Ready To Fall On First Act of Iran Drama

The manufactured crisis between the West and the Islamic Republic of Iran is heading into the end of the 30 day period which the UN Security Council gave the Ahmadinejad government to answer questions about it's nuclear programs.

Today brings attention to a second "secret" Iranian nuclear program that some are claiming has dangerous capabilities.

Iran has told the International Atomic Energy Agency that it will refuse to answer questions about a second, secret uranium-enrichment program, according to European and American diplomats. The existence of the program was disclosed by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad earlier this month.

The diplomats said Iran had also refused to answer questions about other elements of its nuclear program that international inspectors had focused on because they could indicate a program to produce nuclear weapons. The diplomats insisted on not being identified because of the delicacy of continuing negotiations between Iran and the West.

The New York Times succinctly gives the main point:

Together, the actions seem to show Iran's determination to move ahead with a confrontation with the West when the United Nations Security Council meets, probably next week, to debate its next steps.

A non-biased observer might point out that it is the West which is pressing for the "confrontation" on the issue of the Iranian nuclear program.

Iran's decision not to answer the I.A.E.A.'s questions was conveyed last week to Dr. Mohamed ElBaradei, the director general of the nuclear monitoring agency. He is required to send a report on Iran to the Council by Friday.

As a result, the diplomats said, Dr. ElBaradei decided to cancel a trip to Iran by top officials of the agency that had been scheduled for late last week, a trip intended to resolve as many of the questions as possible before the report is submitted...

R. Nicholas Burns, the under secretary of state for political affairs, said Monday evening, "We are very confident that the report is going to be negative concerning Iran's refusal to meet the conditions set down by the United Nations Security Council and the I.A.E.A." He added that Iran was in "outright violation" of the Council request.

Dangerous "new" technology is behind the latest alarm over the Iranian nuclear program:

Some of the most important questions concerned an advanced technology, the P-2 centrifuge, for enriching uranium. International inspectors believe that Iran obtained designs for the P-2 from the Pakistani nuclear engineer Abdul Qadeer Khan in the 1990's.

Iran long denied that it was doing anything with the technology, until Mr. Ahmadinejad declared 10 days ago that the country was "presently conducting research" on the P-2, which he said could increase fourfold the amount of uranium the country is able to enrich.

Mr. Ahmadinejad's statement took the inspectors and American officials by surprise. But they seized on his boasts about Iran's programs to press the question of whether the country has a separate set of nuclear facilities, apart from the giant enrichment center at Natanz, that it has not previously revealed...

Dr. ElBaradei's inspectors were pressing other issues as well, many related to suspicions that Iran has been researching or developing ways to produce warheads or delivery systems for weapons--which Iran has denied. So far, Iran has answered few questions about a document in Tehran, apparently obtained from the Khan network, that shows how to form uranium metal into two spheres. Metal in that form can be used to create a basic nuclear device.

I.A.E.A. reports show there are also questions about plutonium enrichment, and a secret entity known as the Green Salt Project, which seemed to suggest that there were what the agency has called "administrative interconnections" between Iran's uranium processing, high explosives and missile design programs.

All of the UN theatrics are leading toward the inevitable plot development strong enough to end the first act:

If Iran continues to refuse to answer the questions, it could bolster the American argument that the Security Council should take action under Article 7 of the United Nations Charter, which could pave the way for sanctions. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, speaking in Shannon, Ireland, said Monday that the credibility of the Council would be in doubt if it does not take clear-cut actions against Iran.

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who is the most powerful man in Iran, built up the drama further yesterday with an intentionally provocative statement:

Iran's supreme leader, meanwhile, said in a meeting with Sudan's president that Tehran was ready to transfer its nuclear technology to other countries.

As soon as the question is decided of whether UN sanctions will be enacted, the curtain will fall on the first act of the play we are watching.

Act two is where things will really start getting interesting.


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