January 10, 2006



From FoxNews: White House, Europeans Warn Iran After Nuclear Equipment Unsealed.

In the presence of International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors, Iran on Tuesday unsealed uranium enrichment equipment that the U.N. agency had blocked from use because the Islamic republic was in violation of nuclear non-proliferation rules.

The return to its nuclear program at the plant in Natanz angered U.S. and European officials who say Iran is resuming nuclear research that they believe is part of an effort to build nuclear weapons.

Iran's move is a "serious escalation" of its nuclear standoff with the West, and if it continues to defy world opinion, the U.N. Security Council will have no choice but to impose sanctions, said White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan. ...

Elsewhere in Washington on Tuesday, analysts following Iran's nuclear weapons intentions contended that Tehran never observed a "freeze" in its effort to gain a nuclear bomb and that Tuesday's move will put it even closer to its goal than previously known.

Strategic Policy Consulting chief Alireza Jafarzadeh, a FOX News contributor, alleged that Iran has manufactured as many as 5,000 centrifuges during the two-year timeframe that it claimed its activity was suspended. Jafarzadeh, an Iranian opposition activist who was responsible for exposing the Natanz facility in 2002, said he believes Tehran had pre-positioned these centrifuges for installation at Natanz before the "official" restart announced Tuesday and thus is much closer to weapons production than previously believed.

If Iran chooses to install these centrifuges, "it would put Iran only months away from having a nuclear bomb," he told a news conference held by the Iran Policy Committee. ...

The U.N.'s top nuclear watchdog at the IAEA told Sky News last week that he is losing his patience with Iran. Mohamed ElBaradei makes his next report in March, and administration officials say by that time it will be clear if Russia and China will support sanctions. [Emphasis added]

UPDATE I -- Jan. 11: Martin Lindeskog notes that Hans Blix apparently has more patience than ElBaradei: EU should offer Iran more for nuclear deal: Blix.

And Laurence Simon notes that the setting of the cartoon should have been Israel.

UPDATE II -- Jan. 12: From The Wall Street Journal: Unserious Consequences (via TIA Daily).

Thus, even as Iran announced plans to break the IAEA seals on the centrifuges of its Natanz uranium enrichment facility, Austrian Chancellor (and temporary president of the European Union) Wolfgang Schüssel warned that it would be premature to discuss sanctions. Javier Solana, the EU foreign policy chief, added that "every effort must be made to convince the Iranians to return to the previous situation, to negotiations." Mr. Solana's idea of getting tough with the Iranians is apparently to beg them to show up for lunch. ...

Even Mr. Steinmeier's suggestion that Iran has violated the Paris Accord falls short. The IAEA resolution that formalized that agreement stated explicitly that Iran's decision to suspend nuclear activities was a "voluntary," "confidence-building" and "non-legally binding" measure. Put another way, the standards to which the Europeans have so far held Iran are so weak that Iran cannot even be fairly accused of violating them.

All this time the Bush Administration has played a conspicuously low-key role, noting Iran's repeated violations of its nuclear nonproliferation obligations while voting with the majority in IAEA resolutions. "You've got the lead," Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld told the German newsweekly Der Spiegel last fall, referring to the E3. "Well, lead!" Whatever else one might say about this U.S. deference to Europe, the Administration can hardly be accused of bullying its way to some preferred "neo-con" solution, as it was accused in the run-up to the Iraq War.

Posted by Forkum at January 10, 2006 05:46 PM