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January 26, 2006
Beware The Iranian Stall Tactic

The Iranians have shown renewed interest in the Russian proposal to enrich their uranium for civilian-power potential, a proposal the Islamic Republic rejected late last year. The New York Times reports that Iranian negotiators now say that the proposal is "positive" and want to explore it further. However, the negotiations will only take place after the next IAEA meeting, in which Iran warned that any action to refer the standoff to the UN will end any consideration of the Russian proposal:

Iran's top nuclear negotiator, Ali Larijani, said here on Wednesday that he welcomed a Russian proposal to defuse the confrontation between Iran and the West over its nuclear programs by establishing a joint venture to enrich uranium in Russia. But he indicated that no agreement had been reached and that significant details remained to be negotiated.

"Our attitude to the proposal is positive," Mr. Larijani, the secretary of the Supreme National Security Council, said after meeting with his Russian counterpart, Igor S. Ivanov, Russian news agencies reported. "We tried to bring the positions of the two sides closer."

At the same time, he warned that Iran would begin enriching uranium on an industrial scale if its nuclear program was referred to the United Nations Security Council. His remarks came a day after Mr. Larijani and Mr. Ivanov said the confrontation should be resolved at the International Atomic Energy Agency, whose governors are scheduled to meet next week.

The Iranians have never mastered the art of subtlety, as shown by their latest threat to put Israel into an "eternal coma" if the IDF attacks Iranian nuclear sites, a crude reference to Ariel Sharon's medical condition. This latest gambit with the Russians is nothing more than a stupidly transparent and childish stalling tactic. If you refer us to the UN, then we won't think "positively" about the Russians doing our enrichment! After years of lying about their program, they expect people to take this seriously?

What they want is to have the IAEA bite and give them another six months or so to explore this Russian proposal. During that time, they will continue with their own enrichment while the West dances around, waiting for Teheran to make a decision. Of course, they will find some reason to reject it in the end, at which point the IAEA will once again take up the question of referral ... when Iran will suddenly find some other moderate position to be "positive" and ask for more time to consider adopting it. And it will then expect the entire cycle to start over again, and again, and again, until they finally develop enough weapons-grade fissile material to top a few of the Shahab-3 missiles with active nukes.

Pardon the obvious pun, but this isn't exactly rocket science. Any parent whose child has a game station has to play this negotiation out at every bedtime. Until the parent finally takes the game away from the child, the negotiations never end until the game gets fully played out -- and in this case, that "game" would put nuclear weapons in the hands of radical Islamists with well-established links to terror groups. It's time for the grown-ups to take charge of the negotiations and start getting tough with the Iranians before that happens.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at January 26, 2006 7:05 AM

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