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Iran: Enriching Uranium or its Regime? - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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The prevailing roundabout has returned i.e. [that of] saying yes and no, between the Iranian regime and the G5 + 1 countries in the Vienna negotiations that are discussing the Iranian nuclear file after Tehran surprised the West by asking for a new deadline next week in order to give its response to whether it will accept the proposal put forward with regards to uranium being enriched by a third party outside of Iran.

There are those who are saying that the Iranians have returned to playing the game of buying time – and this is a game that they excel at – in order to prolong these negotiations and avoid any obstacles until the end of the year. There are other reports that talk about the difficulties that the Ahmadinejad regime is currently facing in convincing Iran’s hard-liners to accept the proposal made by the West in its present form, and this is something that confirms the seriousness of the position that Ahmadinejad is in. And then there is International Atomic Energy Agency [IAEA] Directory-General Mohamed elBaradei saying in an interview to the [French] “L’Express” magazine that during his visit to Iran two weeks ago, the Iranian president informed him of his country’s desire to move forward with this issue. ElBaradei confirmed that Ahmadinejad “wants to normalize relations with the US and western countries, and also with the international community in general.” He added that Ahmadinejad “is not interested in a partial normalization [of relations] but a comprehensive normalization [of relations].”

The well-established issue here is the difficulty of believing in the Iranian regime’s intentions, and understanding whether they are procrastinating in order to buy more time, or whether there truly are internal difficulties facing Ahmadinejad with regards to convincing the hard-line trend of the benefits of this agreement with the West, and the wisdom of accepting what is being offered. This issue as a whole may perhaps be [connected to] the distribution of roles in Iran, and it is clear today that the Iranian president wishes to enrich his regime more than he wishes to enrich uranium.

Ahmadinejad’s regime is suffering from a lack of internal legitimacy following the recent presidential elections, which his opponents accused him of rigging. Ahmadeinjad’s regime is also suffering from an ongoing and severe internal resistance from the reformist trend. Therefore success in the Vienna negotiations is perhaps the best way out for the Ahmadinejad regime for if Ahmadinejad is able to reach a comprehensive agreement with the West, contributing to the lifting of sanctions from Iran and the normalization of relations with the US and the West, this will allow him to turn the tables on the reformists.

By doing this, Ahmadinejad will have stripped his reformist opponents of all of the issues that [they use to] influence the Iranian street with regards to economic and political openness, not to mention achieving a major breakthrough in the Iranian nuclear file which he will be able to present to the Iranian interior however he likes, whether as an Iranian victory with talk of the West backing down, or by saying that Iran has given the world a way out of the crisis which is proof of Iran’s role in the region and the world. There is no doubt that the Ahmadinejad regime will not fail to find an explanation to presents itself in a good light, for this is a game that Iran excels at.

From here we can understand the Iranian negotiators speaking about the necessity of the West taking steps to build trust with Iran by lifting sanctions and normalizing relations with Tehran. It seems that Iran is just as keen to enrich its regime as it is to enrich uranium, perhaps more so.

Tariq Alhomayed

Tariq Alhomayed

Tariq Alhomayed is the former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat. Mr. Alhomyed has been a guest analyst and commentator on numerous news and current affair programs, and during his distinguished career has held numerous positions at Asharq Al-Awsat, amongst other newspapers. Notably, he was the first journalist to interview Osama Bin Ladin's mother. Mr. Alhomayed holds a bachelor's degree in media studies from King Abdul Aziz University in Jeddah. He is based in London.

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