02/08/2010, 00.00
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For Arabs, Ahmadinejad is defying the West, and that worries them

Papers stress the president’s shift with regards to an earlier statement he made just a few days ago. This is setting off alarm bells, especially after Iran announced that it successfully tested a radar-evading aircraft. Opinions differ as to the reasons, domestic or foreign, that might be behind the Iranian president’s statements.
Beirut (AsiaNews) – Most Arab papers today described Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s order to Iran’s National Atomic Energy Organisation to produce 20 per cent enriched uranium, as an act of defiance, a way of de facto breaking off negotiations with the 5+1 group (the five permanent members of the UN Security Council, United States, Russia, China, United Kingdom and France, plus Germany) over plans to have uranium destined for scientific and civilian purposes enriched outside of Iran.

“Defiant Ahmadinejad” titles Turkey’s Hurryet. “Iran's ambivalence over the enrichment issue comes at a time when the United States and its Western allies have been pushing for a fourth round of U.N. sanctions to be slapped on Iran over its disputed nuclear program.”

Similarly, for Lebanon’s L’Orient Le Jour, “Iran crosses another threshold in its escalation against the West.”

For The Peninsula, which closely monitors regional issues, Iran is “Adding fuel to the row”. In an editorial, the Qatari paper suggests a connection between Ahmadinejad’s announcement and Iran’s successful test of a radar-evading aircraft. “These technological advances, along with the fiery statements being made by Iranian leaders against Israel, are adding fuel to the current dispute.”

Every paper highlighted the inconsistency between what the Iranian president said a few days ago about his country’s availability for negotiations and what he announced yesterday. Arab online noted, “The near daily shifts in the Iranian position over the fuel deal has consistently raised scepticism among world powers, who want to halt Tehran's galloping nuclear drive.”

For Saudi Arabia’s Arab News, Iran’s shifting position appears “to justify the scepticism with which his Tuesday’s comments were met”. Even though “the 20 per cent threshold is substantially below the 90 per cent plus needed to make fissile warhead material, any move by Iran to enrich to 20 per cent would ring international alarm bells because it would bring Iran substantially closer to weapons capacity.

Comments differ as to why Iran’s is changing its tune. Kuwait Times cites experts who believe that Ahmadinejad's comments are an “attempt to pressure Washington and drive a wedge between the six world powers, some of whom are still hesitant to back fresh sanctions against Tehran.”

For Al Jazeera, "President Ahmadinejad is sending a message to his critics inside the country and within the conservative camp [to] those who thought he was moving far ahead of the Supreme Leader” Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. “This is obviously not going to have a very positive effect” for those involved in the talks.

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See also
IAEA deputy director general in Tehran, UN discusses new sanctions
A glimmer of hope in the Iran nuclear stand-off
Tehran open to "dialogue", mum on uranium enrichment
World begins to react to Tehran's decision to restart nuclear research
Arab world takes a wait-and-see attitude towards Iran nuclear programme deal


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