[Marxism] Official corrects claim Iran would suspend u-enrich to open talks

Fred Feldman ffeldman at bellatlantic.net
Fri Jul 4 05:07:36 MDT 2008

Tehran returns to hard line on nuclear activity
By Najmeh Bozorgmehr in Tehran 

Published: July 4 2008 03:00 | Last updated: July 4 2008 03:00

Iran yesterday sought to quell speculation that it was about to bow to
inter-national demands for a suspension of its nuclear programme, insisting
that the more conciliatory tone adopted in remarks in recent weeks did not
amount to a surrender.

Two days after Ali-Akbar Velayati, a senior adviser to Ayatollah Ali
Khamenei, Iran's supreme leader, said Tehran should consider -taking up
aspects of an offer made by world powers last month, he appeared on
television to clarify the interview he had given to a local newspaper.

In the statements made this week, Mr Velayati said the package of incentives
by five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council plus
Germany - the so-called P5+1 - could be acceptable "in principle" and that
it was "expedient" for Iran to resume negotiations so as not to appear

Specifically Mr Velayati said talks could start with a pre-negotiation phase
or the so-called "freeze-for-freeze" which was offered by the western powers
as a sweetener. Under this phase, Iran would not expand nuclear enrichment
while the UN Security Council would halt further sanctions for six weeks.

Mr Velayati did not address the more sensitive issue of enrichment
suspension stipulated by UN resolutions. Iran would have to suspend its
uranium enrichment programme in a second phase, when talks with world powers
would begin on the wider fate of its nuclear programme.

However, Mr Velayati, who advises Ayatollah Khamenei on international
issues, yesterday said he had not commented on the international proposal,
which was delivered to Tehran by Javier Solana, European Union foreign
policy chief.

He said that his intention in the newspaper interview was simply to say that
negotiating with world powers was acceptable. This time, he clearly stated
that suspension of uranium enrichment was not an acceptable condition ahead
of full-negotiations.

Analysts said the backtracking reflected the debate inside the regime at a
time of rising tensions, provoked by speculation of a possible Israeli
airstrike on Iran's nuclear facilities.

Mr Veyalati's statements this week were followed by more conciliatory
remarks from Manouchehr Mottaki, the foreign minister, and suggested some
flexibility on the Iranian side.

The comments led to speculation that Iran might agree to freeze the
expansion of its programme for a set time - perhaps until a new US
administration comes into office - thereby delaying economic sanctions and
military action.

It is not unusual for politicians in Iran to appear on television to
"correct" earlier interviews and this tends to happen on two particularly
sensitive issues - the nuclear programme and rapprochement with the US.

"Mr Velayati's interview sounded like what he believes in," said one former
senior official. "Since Velayati is adviser to the supreme leader, it must
have been Ayatollah Khamenei urging him to correct his remarks on concerns
that it gave the impression that that was his view, too."

A security official said Iran was not close to any decision on the freeze
phase yet but he said "a solution out of this impasse definitely needs to be

Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2008
Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2008

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