Thursday, August 24, 2006

[nuclear] iran's answer to the 'gang of six' proposals

This is a summary of the key points in Bill Samii’s* article on Iran’s 23 page response to the ‘gang of six’:

· Iranian Supreme National Security Council Secretary Ali Larijani gave representatives from China, Russia, Britain, France, Germany and Switzerland (representing US interests) a 23-page written response to an international incentives package at a meeting in Tehran.

· Mohammad Saidi, of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, said that although suspension of Iran's uranium enrichment was no longer an appropriate precondition, Tehran was willing to hold talks. Iran has also rejected the possibility of suspending uranium enrichment.

· The proposal called on Iran to cooperate fully with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), "suspend all enrichment-related and reprocessing activities" and "resume implementation of the Additional Protocol" of the NPT.

· In exchange, the six countries would suspend Security Council talks on the Iranian nuclear program. Future cooperation would include a nuclear-cooperation agreement between Iran and Euratom (the European Atomic Energy Community), cooperation on the management of spent nuclear fuel and radioactive waste, and assistance in nuclear-related research and development. Other issues included assurances on the provision of nuclear fuel, including enrichment at a joint facility in Russia.

· The June proposal mentioned political and economic incentives, too. There would be a regional security conference. Iran would be fully integrated into the international economy - including membership in the World Trade Organization - and there would be a trade and cooperation agreement with the EU.

· Restrictions would be lifted on the sale of European and US-manufactured parts for civilian aircraft. A long-term Iran-EU energy partnership would be created, and restrictions on the use of US telecommunications equipment in Iran might be eliminated. There would be cooperation in the high-technology and agriculture sectors, too.

· If Iran does not suspend uranium enrichment, the Security Council could impose commercial or diplomatic sanctions, the overseas travel of Iranian officials could be restricted and their assets frozen; there could be restrictions on Iranian sports teams' participation in international competitions; and there could be major economic embargoes.

· Resistance to this will come primarily from Moscow and Beijing - in part due to their geopolitical competition with the US. China, furthermore, gets much of its energy from Iran. European powers get oil from Iran, and the country is a significant market for European goods.

· There is concern that Iran would respond to sanctions by restricting oil exports. Yet Iran is heavily reliant on its oil revenues, which account for 40-50% of the state budget and 80-90% of total export earnings.

· Iranian withdrawal from the NPT is another possible response by Tehran. Ahmadinejad hinted at this possibility in February, and doing so now would conform to his confrontational foreign-policy style.

· Military action against the Iranian nuclear program is a remote possibility. Tehran has responded to this risk with a new doctrine of asymmetric warfare.

· Iran also reportedly has links with Iraqi insurgents who could act against coalition forces. Additionally, Tehran believes US forces are already overstretched with Iraq and Afghanistan and cannot commit to another military confrontation.

· Iran displayed the new Fajr-3 missile, torpedoes and other weapons during war games in the Persian Gulf, Strait of Hormuz and Sea of Oman in late March and early April. These exercises allowed Iran to show its naval forces' area-denial capabilities.

· Rohani went on to note the significance of Europe, Russia, Japan, China and other industrialized states, and he emphasized the importance to Iran of diplomacy and the danger of isolation.

* Regional Analysis Coordinator with RFE/RL [Ra

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