NIE, IAEA reports influenced Russia’s approach toward Iran: politicos

December 20, 2007

TEHRAN - The recent IAEA and NIE reports have made Russia adopt a more realistic approach and finally ship nuclear fuel to Iran, MP Mohammad-Ali Rudaki said here on Wednesday.

The latest National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) report on Iran, which was compiled by sixteen U.S. intelligence agencies, and all the reports by the International Atomic Energy Agency have said that Iran does not have a nuclear weapons program.
Iran and Russia reached an agreement last week on a schedule to finish building the Bushehr nuclear power plant after years of delay. The first shipment of nuclear fuel arrived in Bushehr on Sunday.
The vicissitudes in Iran’s nuclear dossier and the United States’ heavy pressure on Russia were the major reasons for Moscow’s delay in fulfilling its promises, but the new developments in the nuclear issue led to a change in Russia’s approach, Rudaki told the Mehr News Agency.
Similar views were sounded by political analyst Fayaz Zahed, who said that new developments in regard to Iran’s nuclear dossier caused Russia to fulfill its longstanding commitments to Iran, after many delays.
Zahed said Putin’s visit to Tehran on October 16 also had a direct effect on Russia’s attitude about completing the Bushehr nuclear power plant.
However, Russia called on Iran to freeze its uranium enrichment program as it started to deliver the first fuel shipment.
Rudaki said Russia’s call for Iran to suspend enrichment is illogical, because “in fact, suspension is not on the government’s agenda anymore” and has been consigned to history.
“According to a bill passed by the Majlis, 20,000 megawatts of nuclear electricity must be produced by building 20 nuclear power plants, and to do this, we need to produce the fuel needed for the power plants,” explained the MP, who sits on the Majlis National Security and Foreign Policy Committee.
Demand for enrichment suspension is insulting
The main bone of contention between Tehran and the West is Iran’s uranium enrichment program. Iran is a signatory to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and therefore has the legal right to enrichment for civilian purposes.
The chief editor of the Tehran daily Kayhan, Hossein Shariatmadari, asserted that Russia’s call for a suspension of enrichment is an “insult” to Iran.
Iran is a signatory to the NPT and thus has the “legal right” to produce nuclear fuel for its civilian needs, he stated.
According to previous contracts, Moscow agreed to deliver the fuel, but only made the first shipment after a long delay, Shariatmadari noted.
However, the U.S. intelligence report on Iran’s nuclear activities may have influenced Russia’s decision, he added.
“If we agreed to halt indigenous production of nuclear fuel, then we would actually be allowing others to control our nuclear activities,” he said.
Former MP Elyas Hazrati told MNA that the U.S. and its allies have been trying to isolate Iran politically and economically, and since the Bushehr power plant is the symbol of Iran’s access to civilian nuclear energy, the U.S. made great efforts to stop Russia’s cooperation with the country.
However, Moscow understood Iran’s new situation and realized that the United States was revising its policy toward the country and therefore took a positive step by delivering the fuel, he noted.
Strategic partnership
Mohammad Kiarashi, Iran’s former envoy to the IAEA, said Russia has realized that cooperation with Iran as a strategic partner would greatly further its internets.
In recent months, Moscow has made a number of foreign policy moves, he stated, adding that Russia has strengthened its ties with many regional powers, including Iran, and the delivery of fuel can be evaluated in this context.
Commenting on Russia’s delivery of nuclear fuel to the Bushehr power plant, U.S. President George W. Bush said on Monday, “If the Russians are willing to do that, which I support, then the Iranians do not need to learn how to enrich.”
Kiarashi said that Iran must produce its own nuclear fuel since Russia has repeatedly delayed the delivery of fuel and the start-up of the Bushehr power plant.
“The process of nuclear negotiations between Iran and Russia clearly shows that Iran must become self-sufficient in the production of nuclear fuel. Of course, the best justification is Russia’s behavior in delivering fuel to the (Bushehr) plant.”