Russia Downplays Iran's 'Good News'

Russian experts are downplaying Iran's "good news" to have joined the world's nuclear technology club.

Iran's announcement that it had processed uranium is no cause for alarm, said Viktor Mikhailov, former Russian minister of atomic energy.

"Largely a bluff," said Vladimir Yevseyev, a senior researcher at the Moscow-based Center for Global Security.

"A fairy tale," declared Yevgeny Velikhov, a politically connected nuclear scientist.

Russia's assessment matters because President Vladimir Putin's government has positioned itself as in intermediary in the international standoff over Iran's nuclear program. Russia has offered to supply Iran's civilian nuclear program with nuclear fuel jointly processed in Russia, but so far, Iran has not accepted the offer

Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov warned that Iran's announcement would not bolster its negotiating position with the West.

"A solution of the Iranian problem from the position of strength does not exist. All European Union countries agree with this," Lavrov said. "If there are any such plans after all, they will fail to produce a solution, but will merely create a highly explosive situation in the Middle East."

Most, but not all, of the commentators consulted by the Moscow-based Russian Profile Web site before Iran's announcement doubted that Russia's diplomatic initiative toward Iran could succeed.

But Mikailov said he believes the issue can still be settled peacefully, predicting "Iranian authorities will soon accept Russia's proposal to set up a joint venture for uranium enrichment on Russian territory."

Lavrov emphasized Russia "would not make any conclusions in haste. Emotions run high too often over the Iranian nuclear program."

By Jefferson Morley |  April 12, 2006; 2:43 PM ET  | Category:  Europe
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Iran IS still quite some distance from a working bomb. This is true. They claim to have taken the first step.

I don't think Iran can be persuaded to stop from building nukes, just as America cannot be persuaded from bombing Iran sometime in the next 24 months.

What little chance the Iranian moderates had to change things will be destroyed by the constant aggressive stance by America. I don't want Iran to have the Bomb, though at best airstrikes will only delay the day they do and redouble Iran's desire to get it. Perhaps the last chance for a peaceful solution has already been passed.

Posted by: David Patrick, UK | April 12, 2006 03:59 PM

THey have laws and national controls that show they wont make a bomb. Iran is a strong and confident country that does not need any nuclear weapons. Unlike us they do not have nuclear weapons and are not interested in them. I suggest we look at our selves and actually keep our own obligation to the Non-Proliferation Treaty, to which we are the members with the most serious breaches.

This talk about an Iranian nuclear bomb is political marketing used as a cloak for business interests. The same people involved with Enron and charge us so much at the gas pumps. The same people who love to go on witch hunts and label others as un-patriotic or Left. I do not beleive left and right, but I do beleive in qualified reporting and journalism. With the internet so much quality and accountability has been washed away, this article is proof.

Iran is no threat and it is ironic but not of its neighbours feel threatened and if one takes the time to do a case study they will see that over 150 countries in the world support Iran. Iran has shown so much good will on the issue.

These are the exact reasons why all the world Churches have condemend American foreign policy and American actions in Iraq as "terror" at the World Council of Churches meeting in Brazil.

Posted by: John Fraser | April 12, 2006 04:25 PM

A peaceful solution is not lost by any means. We just have to get the fanatics from one side to sit down with the fanatics from the other side and start talking. There is absolutely no reason for either side to want a war.

The US population will probably not tolerate any more military misadventures. Believe it or not, most people are sick of the costs and sick of seeing Americans and Iraqis die. The media is also becoming more combative and questioning of the president's policies now that the public has so turned against him. Besides, with the interim elections coming up in about 8 months, Bushie would have to attack Iran in a lot faster time frame than 24 months. Otherwise, he could face a recalcitrant Senate and Congress being run by Democrats, which will really muzzle him. I think that'll probably be the best thing that could happen.

The Iranian side is not run by Ahmadinejad, but by the Ayatollahs. For all Ahmadinejad's blustering, he doesn't have any real power, especially if the mullahs decide he isn't doing a "heck of a job". The issue for Iran is security. They're afraid of what the US may do and they want to protect themselves (the regime, not necessarily the population). The people seem to think of nuclear energy as a prestige thing, not realizing that enrichment is for making bombs, not just a process for making nuclear energy.

In order to end this little Mexican standoff, I think the US just needs to be generous in it's offerings of security guarantees and economic incentives. On the other side, Iran will have to most likely dismantle Hezbollah (or make it a non-violent movement), stop calling the US "The Great Satan", tolerate a little criticism every now and then for civil rights and freedom of speech issues and generally start acting like a responsible country. Iran could be a tremendously positive influence in the region once it starts making nice with its neighbors and would actually be an excellent partner in helping rebuild Iraq and bringing regional stability. The other plus is that the country's population is sufficiently disillusioned with the cheap talk of the religious men that there is a great deal of room for fostering secular ideas both inside Iran and in the region.

Posted by: Brian (the other one) | April 12, 2006 04:26 PM

What is swept under the carpet by the US is the fact that Iran has every right to nuclear energy. This constant harping about a nuclear bomb, based on no facts whatsoever, is an American diversion designed to isolate a regime they don't like.

Moreover, what if Iran ultimately built a nuclear bomb? Its use would result in their annihilation. However, it would make it more difficult for the US to launch an attack. That, it seems, is really America's great fear: that it would not be able to attack Iran with impunity.

Russian and the US, China and the US, India and Pakistan have all found a way to co-exist with both sides having nuclear weapons. Does anyone really believe that this would be the case if one side or the other had only conventional weapons?

Recent history shows that the US is the country to fear. Let Iran build a nuclear weapon and guarantee itself a small measure of safety.

Posted by: H. J. Pfau | April 12, 2006 04:39 PM

There is not now, nor has there ever been, any evidence of a nuclear weapons program in Iran. The nuclear energy program that Iran is now undertaking was started under the Shah, with the full support and encouragement of the USA. All the talk about nuclear weapons is baloney, pure and simple.

Posted by: Hass | April 12, 2006 04:42 PM

It's interesting to see the amount of misinformation bouncing around about Iran. I would expect a responsible White House Administration to be able to
-reconcile the differences between Iran, India, and Pakistan's nuclear programs.
-acknowledge that there isn't a consensus within the world community regarding the status of Iran's nuclear projects, and the best way to handle it (Russia and China stick out as the two main dissenters).
-give a more reasonable perspective on the rhetoric coming out of Iran right now...

From my perspective, the WH's current saber rattling apropos Iran is eerily reminiscent of Iraq. Bush and his minions can blather on for as long as they want about how they went to war in Iraq based on the best available information, but the pre-war data on Iraq's WMD capabilities didn't convince me, nor a significant minority that distrusted Bush' rationale for war at the time. The data released since, as well as the facts on the ground, has eroded Bush' support base further.

I have no doubt that, barring mainstream opposition from either the US military, or the right-wing, Bush can engineer another rush to war in Iran. While a certain subset of the US population will cheer on such an avenging mission of justice and righteousness, an attack on Iran might swing the 2006 elections, but will otherwise be a devastating act of self-sabotage, on the part of America.

The US economy is currently far too dependant on external forces to be able to weather the kind of conflagration that attacking Iran would entail. Those who are currently fanning those flames are either self-deluded, or self-interested.

A surge in oil prices, and billions of dollars worth of contracts to corporations like Halliburton, are the most certain, immediate result, of an attack on Iran. A certain subset of (already wealthy) Americans stand to benefit dramatically from such an action. For the rest of America, the worst is yet to come...

Posted by: kris | April 12, 2006 04:52 PM

"That, it seems, is really America's great fear: that it would not be able to attack Iran with impunity."

Can we attack Iran with Impunity now then?

Posted by: Duck | April 12, 2006 06:41 PM

And why, precisely, would George W. Bush and company expect Iran to obey international law when Bush himself has so repeatedly thumbed his nose at international law?
This is exactly what you get when the world's lone superpower is administered by ideologues who feel their nation is above international law -- in essence, by peole who act as outlaws.
In fact, the idiots in the Bush administration brought this whole nuclear crisis upon themselves and the world by repeatedly threatening and demonizing Iran with ill-conceived axis-of-evil rhetoric, leaving the Iranian leadership understandbly fearful of a U.S. invasion and determined to head one off by going nuclear. Why George W. Bush, his then speechwriter David Frum, Rumsfeld, Cheney and all the other ideologue dolts in that circle felt it wise to prod and provoke Iran in this way is beyond me. You don't use aggressive rhetoric like "axis of evil" unless you're planning to go to war. Casting out provocative utterances of this sort and then doing nothing got us where we are today with Iran. Its leadership had every reason to fear a U.S. unilateral strike, and so reacted as any rational national leaders could be expected to react: they went nuclear.
One more example of how George W. Bush has bequeathed us an ever more dangerous and unstable world.

Posted by: Tony Wilson | April 13, 2006 10:21 AM

All of the opinions that I have read seem to be looking at the challenge from the wrong direction. The president of Iran has stated publically that Israel needs to be wiped off the map. There is no easier way to do this than with a nuclear device. The Iran military has a missle which can reach the capital of Israel. Now 20 years ago Iraq was constructing a nuclear plant that the Israeli airforce eliminated. There was outrage in the UN but ultimately no one did anything to punish them.
What makes any of us think that the US is going to do anything, rhetoric aside.We are already stretched way to thin in other areas.
If and when the Isrealis feel threatened enough they will do what they must to survive and they already have nuclear weapons thanks to us. So when this powder keg goes off and a good portion Iran has
become radioactive glass there will be no one to blame but ourselves for our lack of understanding and negotiating skills.
Mind you the Iranian goverment sanctions and funds recognized terrorist organizations so would we be justified to allow this to happen becuase of our own war on terrorism?
Here is another little observation -unless you are blind, Iran and the US have had an undeclared war for the last 20 plus years and I would be willing to bet that if the US goverment gives a nod to the Israeli goverment a preemptive airstrike could happen at anytime. I believe that our current administration could unmuzzle the Israeli military machine long enough to cripple Iran for years to come. There will be choas in the UN but I believe that no real punishment would ensue for such actions, just like last time. History is notorious for repeating the same mistakes.

Posted by: Keith | May 12, 2006 05:24 PM

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