September 30, 2007

Has Ahmadinejad saved Iran from sanctions?

18:56 | 27/ 09/ 2007

MOSCOW. (RIA Novosti political commentator Pyotr Goncharov) - Everyone is used to the escapades of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. He was expected to surprise the world again at the 62nd UN General Assembly session in New York, and he made quite a performance.

In a fit of fiery eloquence, Ahmadinejad felt all but a messiah and warned the powers that be: "If the world powers listen to my advice, they will live in peace and security. If not, they will sink into darkness, as the Quran says." Even his idol, the architect of the Islamic revolution in Iran, Ayatollah Khomeini, would not have dared issue such a warning.

But as the New Testament goes, "Render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's, and unto God the things which are God's." We should not forget about worldly problems. One of the most burning issues is Tehran's nuclear program. The world community expected the Iranian president to speak about its civilian direction but heard only appeals to turn to God. There is no doubt that Ahmadinejad's impressive performance is just the beginning.

It will be continued on September 27 when the foreign ministers of the Iranian Six gather in the UN headquarters to discuss further action on Tehran's nuclear program. The Six consists of the pro-Iranian Russia and China, and the anti-Iranian United States, France, Britain and Germany.

Further action means tougher sanctions, which are advocated by the later four. Iran has not complied with the previous resolution of the UN Security Council No. 1747 on the moratorium on all uranium-enrichment procedures, and is not going to abide by it. As for the sanctions, they have produced no impression on Iran at all, but Russia and China are ready to give it another chance to avoid punishment.

Sanctions are not likely to be toughened, because Russia and China have a well-grounded position demonstrated by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. He said that the Security Council may discuss tougher sanctions in the future but the time was not yet ripe for that - now the Council should support the Iran-IAEA agreements and give Tehran an opportunity to carry them out.

The Six should primarily try to remove vague points in Iran's nuclear program rather than introduce new sanctions. As a result, the Six would "become clear on many issues that have remained unanswered up to this day," Lavrov explained.

Having recently stepped up its cooperation with the IAEA, Iran has done away with a number of white spots in its nuclear program, but all of them are from the past, like the issue of the plutonium trace in Iranian centrifuges. The main question is still there: Why should Iran go for a full nuclear cycle - commercial uranium enrichment - if it does not have the ability to produce heat-emitting pellets? Nuclear fuel is loaded into a reactor exclusively in pellets, but Iran will not be able to produce them in the foreseeable future. Why is it still developing its nuclear-enrichment cycle? Ahmadinejad has not answered this most important question.

Meanwhile, his position does not enjoy undivided support in Iran. Akbar Hashemi

Rafsanjani, his main rival in the presidential elections, the former president and now the chairman of the Council of Experts, Iran's number one authority, maintains that while being a national priority, the Iranian nuclear program should not bring disaster to the Iranian people. An obvious majority in the Council of Experts shares this view.

Ahmadinejad's impressive performance in New York was meant not only to win him sympathy in the UN but also to help him retain support at home.

The opinions expressed in this article are the author's and do not necessarily represent those of RIA Novosti.

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