10/02/2009, 00.00
IRAN
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Tehran accepts “unlimited” inspections of Qom nuclear plant

The decision announced after a meeting, the first official encounter in 30 years, between American and Iranian envoys. For Obama it was "constructive", but the patience of the United States "is not unlimited" and "Iran must take concrete steps to build confidence that its nuclear program is intended for peaceful purposes", starting with providing access for Inspectors "within two weeks."

Beirut (AsiaNews) - Cautious optimism in the West over the outcome of yesterday's meeting on Iran nuclear programme, which took place in Genthod, near Geneva, and gathered representatives from Tehran and those of the "5 +1"; the Security Council members (U.S., Russia, China, Britain and France) plus Germany.

Iran's readiness to allow IAEA inspections "without limits" of the nuclear power station in Qom – the existence of which was revealed by the U.S. and which some suspect are actually two – and its agreement to another meeting within the month is certainly positive.  Somewhat less significant,  for the time being, is Iran’s agreement to the Russian proposal to enrich uranium -  intended for medical purposes -  abroad.

The outcome of the meeting was highlighted last night by Javier Solana, EU foreign policy chief, who spoke of a complete change in " Iran’s commitment to cooperate fully and immediately with the IAEA”.  It must be added that the "breakthrough" came after a private meeting between the U.S. envoy William Burns and his Iranian counterpart Saed Salil,  held in the afternoon.

This face-to-face interview merits further analysis, because the two countries met openly after almost 30 years and because the fact seems to give impetuous to the policy of opening towards Tehran sought by Barack Obama. Washington has described the meeting as "constructive", adding however that the patience of the United States "is not unlimited" and that "Iran must take concrete steps to build confidence that its nuclear program is intended for peaceful purposes," beginning with providing access for inspectors "within two weeks." In this regard, the unofficial  ISNA news agency writes that Salil affirmed the "absolute" right of Iran to its nuclear program and led a "package" of proposals that includes economic considerations, international security and political goals. Yesterday, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was to announce a project for which the Iranian issue should be examined by a "meeting" of heads of state of the "5 +1" and that his country "is interested" in buying uranium enriched abroad.

Even the Tehran foreign minister, Manouchehr Mottaki, has reiterated willingness to give "full cooperation" to IAEA inspectors, and the irreversibility of the nuclear program. Another important fact is that, in an unprecedented move the U.S. consented to allow Mottaki to move from New York (where the assembly was for the UN) to Washington, ostensibly to meet with the Iranian community resident there, but where he also spoke with "representatives" of Obama administration.  

The entire matter however is overshadowed by Iran’s history of backtracking on its promises and the fear that Tehran’s new-found willingness to cooperate is just a facade aimed at  reducing international pressure, given the tensions within the regime. (PD)

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