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When Will Iran Acquiesce? - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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Iran won’t accept to halt its nuclear program when it believes this is the end of negotiations. Iran today is acting like a carpet seller; it is seeking the highest bidder for its carpet. The latest offer from the international community is yet another price offer. Despite practically ending the US embargo, which has been in place since the early days of the Islamic revolution, Iran wants more. European countries have guaranteed they will assist Iran in developing its petroleum technology, thereby providing it with additional fuel power and relieving it of the need for nuclear power. This will provide Iran with huge revenue at a time when the country needs every dollar it can get.

For some reason, I don’t believe the Iranian government, if given the choice between enrichment or a valuable reward, would choose the second. I also don’t believe that Tehran is really refusing to halt its uranium enrichment program. It is awaiting the sweetest reward the west can offer in order to stop a program that is both financially costly and militarily dangerous. We are currently witnessing Tehran’s cunning bargaining in action. It will not cease unless the army’s artillery is on its shores or the incentive sufficient.

What could tempt Iran and motivate them to stop enriching uranium? Are we facing yet another Saddam who refused to allow inspectors to enter Iraq but finally relented when the crisis escalated? Or is Iran following an orderly plan whereby Tehran is seeking to gain as much leeway as possible, just as Libya did with its nuclear weapons? The Libyan government voluntarily admitted it had bought equipment to manufacture a nuclear bomb and declared its readiness to dispose of them in exchange of a political deal. Its wish soon became reality and the US president thanked Tripoli for its actions.

Tehran has different needs and larger aspirations. It doesn’t need recognition from President George W. Bush. Instead, it is focusing on a bigger economic, technical and political prize. It is saying that its nuclear program is a non-negotiable security necessity. At the same time, it is negotiating and rejecting every offer that is presented to it, unless it is at the right price. But, unlike its previous dealings with Saddam’s Iraq , when it disregarded international public opinion and the European and Russian position, this time around, the US administration is acting wisely. For its part, Iran has successfully gained European approval. Even Russia ’s views are largely similar. The difference concerns whether to give Iran more time to negotiate and additional concessions. But, they all agree on the need to stop Iran enriching uranium. Russia itself, despite offering technical support to the Iranian nuclear project, does not want a nuclear Tehran . It retains the same reservations as European countries, yet won’t hesitate to build Tehran ’s nuclear reactor, as France did when it sold equipment and built the Tamuz nuclear reactor for Saddam Hussein and later took part in bombing it.

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed is the former general manager of Al-Arabiya television. He is also the former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat, and the leading Arabic weekly magazine Al-Majalla. He is also a senior columnist in the daily newspapers Al-Madina and Al-Bilad. He has a US post-graduate degree in mass communications, and has been a guest on many TV current affairs programs. He is currently based in Dubai.

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