Feb 27, 2006 9:20 pm


It is too early to tell whether Iran has made a strategic decision to back off or is only trying to create chinks in the united world front it faces. There is no question but that Iran wants the Russians to finish Bushir and is willing to pay some price to achieve it though it has yet to agree to stop"all controversial nuclear activities." Still, it should be noted that Iran announced that it has not yet begun to enrich Uranium:

Foreign Ministry Spokesman Hamid-Reza Asefi said here Sunday Iran has not resumed uranium enrichment yet.

Asefi made the remark while talking to domestic and foreign reporters at his weekly press conference.

"The question of using some centrifuges is different from enrichment. The issue is the research activities Iran has resumed.

This is different from uranium enrichment.

"Iran will continue its research work and will not suspend it in the face of pressures," he said.

Asked about the"Green Salt Project", he voiced Iran's readiness to hold talks with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to remove ambiguities, if any.

It is not a very sensitive and important issue, he said.

"If there is any ambiguity in this respect, Iran is ready to remove it within the framework of its cooperation with the IAEA." Asefi pointed to the upcoming visit to Iran of deputy chief of the IAEA and said Tehran is ready to cooperate with the agency and answer its experts' questions.

Turning to Iran's cooperation with the agency in the past and at present, he said,"The Islamic Republic of Iran gives priority to cooperation with the IAEA.

The spokesman added,"What Iran carries out at its nuclear facilities is not concealed from the IAEA and the agency is aware of Iran's activities."

In other words, the Iranians are doing their utmost to convince at least their own people that the worse is over and the Russians are cautiously optimistic. The ever pacifying Europeans even threw in an early carrot in the form of a natural gas contract. Negotiations will continue in Russia and El Baradai is to present his report on March 6. It ain't over by a long shot. But it has taken an interesting turn.

A tough IAEA leaked report which challenges Iranian assertion that it has not enriched uranium and expresses doubt about its cooperation is further increasing the pressure on Iran. For the full IAEA report, click here.

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