Beirut (AsiaNews) - The verbal tug of war over Iran’s nuclear program continues. Tehran, through its Foreign Minister, says it has a counter-proposal to the one put forward October by the Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), for which 70% which Iranian uranium would be enriched abroad and returned for peaceful purposes. The United States is pushing Iran to give a "clear message" about its intentions and say they are studying new sanctions, of which Obama also spoke during his recent trip to China (receiving, it seems, comforting answers). Friday the issue will go to the Security Council.
Manouchehr Mottaki, the Iranian foreign minister, in an interview Wednesday by the semi-official ISNA said that his country had doubts about the plan proposed by the IAEA and talked about the counter-proposal to "swap" the uranium within Iranian territory. Tehran, he said, wants to be sure of receiving the fuel it negotiates for.
Mottaki also said Tehran does not fear the threat of tougher sanctions, calling them, during a visit to the Philippines, "a thing straight from the '60s and '70s. Over the past four years - he added - we have had this experience. I think they are wise enough not to retrace failed paths. "
On another front, President Obama has spoken of a "package of possible steps " that the United States are discussing with their partners, adding that Iran's refusal of the draft of the IAEA, would make it "less safe". But Obama has wanted to leave a window open, expressing "hope" that the Iranians will decide to go for the option provided by the United Nations.
Complicating the picture is a report a few days ago from the IAEA, according to which Iran’s explanation of the nature and objectives of its second nuclear site "requires further clarification".
The impression is that Tehran is delaying in order to see the real intentions of Russia and China. The two countries in recent years have developed large investments in Iran, particularly in energy, often taking the place of western oil and gas companies, which are still at the top of Beijing’s shopping list. And to be effective, sanctions will have to tap the energy sector. (PD)