Sunday, April 30, 2006

Iran Offer on Inspections is Rejected by the U.S.

The Wall Street Journal:
Iran said on Saturday it would allow United Nations inspectors to resume snap inspections of its nuclear facilities, but only if the dispute again went before the U.N. nuclear monitor. The White House rejected the offer, which apparently came as Iran sought to avoid a full-blown U.N. Security Council debate over sanctions.

"Today's statement does not change our position that the Iranian government must give up its nuclear ambitions, nor does it affect our decision to move forward to the United Nations Security Council," White House spokesman Blaine Rethmeier said. READ MORE

Russia, which has steadfastly opposed possible sanctions against Iran, joined the international chorus in telling Iran it must stop nuclear enrichment.

Iran's offer to open itself to nuclear inspections was issued a day after the International Atomic Energy Agency, the U.N. nuclear monitor, confirmed the Iranians successfully produced enriched uranium and had defied the Friday Security Council deadline to freeze the process.

Iran gave no ground on the enrichment program but offered to reopen it to IAEA inspectors were the Security Council to drop the matter.

"If the issue is returned to the International Atomic Energy Agency, we will be ready to allow intrusive inspections," Mohammed Saeedi, Iran's deputy nuclear chief, told state-run television.

Enriched uranium, depending on the degree of processing, can be used either to fuel civilian power plants or to make nuclear weapons.

While Iran insists it has no plans to make weapons and does not need or want them, the United States, Britain and France suspect the program is aimed at producing nuclear warheads.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, who did not alter Russia's opposition to sanctions, told his Iranian counterpart, Manouchehr Mottaki, that Tehran must stop enriching uranium and work with the IAEA, according to the Russian Foreign Ministry.

But Mr. Saeedi said Iran was pushing forward with further technological developments.

"Our efforts are to use the most sophisticated machines, like in Germany, Netherlands, Japan and Brazil," Mr. Saeedi said.

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, meanwhile, expressed confidence that the West will prevent Iran from obtaining weapons of mass destruction and compared Iran's hard-line president with Adolf Hitler for calling for Israel's destruction.

"The West -- above all under the leadership of the United States -- will ensure that Iran under no circumstances comes to possess unconventional weapons," Mr. Olmert was quoted as saying in an interview published Saturday in Germany's Bild newspaper. "The president of the United States is a very brave man who understands that very well."

Mr. Olmert wouldn't say whether he thought a military conflict with Iran could become inevitable.

However, he said Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's repeated calls for the destruction of Israel underlined the need to limit Iran's military strength.

"Ahmadinejad talks today like Hitler before he seized power" in Germany in the 1930s, Mr. Olmert said. "We are dealing with a psychopath of the worst kind. ... God forbid that this man ever gets his hands on nuclear weapons."

Iran barred intrusive inspections of its nuclear facilities in February after it was referred to the U.N. Security Council for not fully cooperating with U.N. monitors.

Tehran subsequently announced that it had successfully enriched uranium for the first time -- a significant step toward large-scale production of nuclear fuel.