Well, Iran’s in the clear with the nuclear issue, for now. After Thursday’s board of governors meeting, the IAEA has decided to refrain from sending Iran’s case to the UN Security Council, much to the chagrin of the U.S. and Britain. Apparently, Russia has been thrust in the middle of the situation, as a possible mediator (ahem—supervisor) to Iran’s pursuance of peaceful nuclear energy.
If all goes according to the IAEA’s plan, Moscow will submit a proposal to Tehran that requests all uranium enrichment activity to be carried out in Russia, rather than in Iran. This is to ensure that no technology essential to the development of WMD gets into the hands of the theocratic state.
While many Iranians—sports/athletic community; Zoroastrian, Christian and Jewish religious leaders; 9 million Basijis (voluntary reserves); and more—have publicly protested the discriminatory tactics of the EU trio and the U.S., former president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani has been quoted in multiple reports as calling the decision of the IAEA board of directors “wise” and "visionary". At Friday Prayers, during the funeral procession for the 110 newly unearthed soldiers, he is quoted in Iran Daily (Nov. 26) as saying, “Iran is prepared to collaborate with the IAEA to help remove existing ambiguities (about its nuclear program),” adding, “We need to interact rationally and seriously with the world. Islam and the Islamic Revolution subscribe to regional interaction and are not after waging wars with the world.”
It’s interesting that Russia, which has had its own conflicts with the U.S. pertaining to the proper dismantling of nuclear weapons left over from the Soviet era, is suddenly given a tremendous amount of weight in deciding Iran’s future.
On a side note, Iran News (Nov. 26) reports Russia’s ambitions to get in on the $7-billion-dollar gas pipeline project involving Iran, Pakistan and India. Iran boasts the world’s second largest natural gas reserves (after Russia), making it a significant source of gas for its Asian neighbors.
Of course, Russia is a strong diplomatic partner of Iran, especially in the area of nuclear technology exchange, but the IAEA’s move seems a bit excessive. After all, Iran has been more transparent and welcoming to the agency’s innumerous inspection requirements/demands than any other country, and has operated within its legal rights, as dictated by the terms of the NPT. Plus, in spite of the highly suspicious attitude of the IAEA towards Iran, inspectors have turned up nothing suggestive of unfriendly nuclear development.