Experts dubious of Iran promise not to pursue nukes

American and Israeli analysts are pessimistic over reports that Tehran will provide a written promise to the UN that it will not develop nuclear weapons.

“Iran plans to declare in the UN that it will never go after nuclear bombs,” Vice President Mohammad Reza Rahimi said on Tuesday, AP quoted the Iranian Mehr news agency as reporting.

He further claimed that international sanctions against Iran were trying to stop its “scientific progress,” according to the report.

Experts are, however, pessimistic about any chance of success in negotiations with Iran. Different Iranian leaders are saying contradictory things, Patrick Clawson, the director of research at The Washington Institute for Near East Policy, told The Jerusalem Post on Wednesday.

“[Supreme Leader Ali] Khamenei’s speech a few weeks ago took a much more plausible approach than Rahimi’s ‘never’ comment: Khamenei said if Iran wanted nuclear weapons, no country could stop it, but Iran does not want the weapons,” Clawson said.

“Rahimi is given to flamboyant comments,” Clawson said.

“In the March 12 Mehr news account of his speech, he said, ‘The sanctions are to Iran’s benefit…. Without a doubt, the pain [from the sanctions] led to a great treasure for Iran.’ He went on at length about how well Iran can do without oil because of its great scientific and technical achievements.

He then added, ‘Without oil, our neighbors would be riding around on camels.’ Great for Iran’s relations with the Iraqis and GCC [Gulf Cooperation Council] states.

In other words, his words don’t mean much,” Clawson added.

Prof. Meir Litvak of the department of Middle Eastern history and the director for the Alliance Center of Iranian Studies at Tel Aviv University, told the Post on Wednesday that Iran’s word is not good enough.

“What can be said is that promises are nice, but you need mechanisms to verify such pledges, and make sure that Iran does not renege at any time it wants, and God is always in the details,” Litvak said.

A flurry of recent reports of Iranian officials taking conciliatory positions is seen by analysts as an attempt to relieve the pressure of sanctions on the Islamic Republic’s economy.

Deputy Foreign Minister for Asia and Oceania Seyed Abbas Araqchi said on Tuesday that the G5+1 (the five permanent UN Security Council members plus Germany) negotiations were better than in the past and he hoped for positive results, the Fars News Agency reported.

And on Monday, the Iranian ambassador to France, Ali Ahani, said, “We are seeking a peaceful use of nuclear energy, which is completely within our legal and legitimate rights.

Because of this, we are insisting on this legitimate right of ours because our people should be able to use this technology for energy and medical purposes,” Mehr news reported.

“We have announced our readiness to reach an agreement to provide the necessary guarantees that our nuclear program is civilian and will remain civilian,” he said.

Last month, a confidential International Atomic Energy Agency report stated that Iran had begun installing advanced centrifuges at its main uranium enrichment plant in Natanz. These machines could allow Iran to speed up its nuclear program.

Michael Rubin, a scholar at the American Enterprise Institute and a former Pentagon official, told the Post that “Iran has a decades-long history of breaking promises. The day after they promised to lift the bounty on [author] Salman Rushdie, for example, so as to get the British ambassador back, they reimposed it. And don’t even ask about promises to respect embassies.”

By Jerusalem Post


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