The good news is that the inspection team from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is on the ground at Qom and begi nning its inspection of the once secret plant. That will lead to more information of what they are really doing, and hopefully, a better sense of what they intend to do about the recent proposal to give them isotopes that can be used for medical research, but deny them a bomb.
Or will it?
Iran has started down a path of engagement before which led only to endless 'negotiations', according to an article in today's New York Times by David Sanger. if that happens again, it will probably only mean that they will find other sources for uranium to enrich in some other plant they have yet to announce, or the west has yet to discover.
The Israeli Institute for National Security Studies has done an analysis of the Irani Program, their responses to Western approaches, and their capabilities. Their assessment, reported in Today's Jerusalem Post, agrees with Sanger's assessment that it would probably take less than a year to replensih stocks of uranium sent to Russia for processing under the agreement. The Post article by Emily Landau and Ephraim Sculai is well-reasoned and points out that " The facts are these: the Teheran Nuclear Research Center contains a small, aging nuclear research reactor, fueled by 20 percent enriched uranium. This reactor is used for nuclear research, particularly the production of isotopes for medical and industrial uses. Yet despite being under IAEA safeguards, the reactor has also been used in the past for weapons-related research - the production of minute quantities of plutonium. The fuel for this reactor is running low, and Iran has been at a loss how to procure a fresh supply, doubting whether anyone would agree to resupply it in light of the ongoing nuclear crisis. Several months ago Iran turned to the IAEA for help. "
"Although not all details of the proposal are public, if Iran continues its uranium enrichment activities (as it avows it will), it would be able to replenish its LEU stocks in less than a year. Iran would be able to achieve the quantity needed for the further enrichment to make one nuclear warhead within far less than that time, since it will have accumulated more than that quantity before the amount needed for the reactor fuel is actually shipped out (this would reportedly occur in mid-January 2010). "
"What then is the US trying to achieve with this deal? The deal will obviously not in itself stop Iran's nuclear program, and it even implicitly legitimizes Iran's uranium enrichment activities, because the subject of the deal is uranium that was enriched by Iran in direct violation of five UN Security Council resolutions. Moreover, the deal was not conceived as part of a grand US strategy for dealing with Iran's nuclear ambitions, but was rather the outgrowth of the specific Iranian request to the IAEA for more fuel for the Teheran reactor. "
"Thus the question remains - what is President Obama's purpose? When Obama learned of Iran's request for more reactor fuel, he saw an opportunity to test Iranian intentions while significantly reducing Iran's stockpile of LEU. The idea of reducing the stockpile is in itself a positive move, but the measure was not devised with an eye to the larger goal of blocking Iran's attainment of a nuclear military capability. Herein lie the problems with the deal. "
"How can the proposed offer be a test of Iran's intentions? "
This article presents some powerful arguments on not taking Iran for granted or assuming that their 'willingness' is actually going to produce fruitful results. Time will tell.
The Chinese media, through Xinhua's China View, chose to react to recent statements of the Israeli Foriegn Minister as its response to worldwide skepticism.
"Iran's Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki dismissed on Monday the aggressive remarks uttered by Israeli officials against Tehran, the semi-official Fars news agency reported. "
"Mottaki underlined that the "Zionist regime" does not dare to attack Iran as it lacks the required strength, capabilities and resources, the report said. "
"We believe that the Zionist regime is in its weakest state now. Today this regime is experiencing the weakest condition in political, regional and international arenas," Mottaki told reporters in a media and press exhibition in Tehran. "
Israeli offiicals have consistently been saying that Israeli will not tolerate Iran's nuclear bomb and they will react "as soon as they know clearly that there is a threat." Not an irresponsible position, and one that may do more to contain the problem than much of the rhetoric coming out of Washington.
Time will tell, but vigiliance and time limits work better with the gang of Teheran that pludits, conversation and candy.