Sunday, October 02, 2005

Sunday morning review: Iran

Iran has at least until November, when the IAEA director, Mohamed ElBaradei, will report to the agency on the issue, to honor past agreements and provide the IAEA with ''access to individuals, documentation relating to procurement, dual-use equipment, certain military-owned workshops and research and development locations." Iran's ruling clerics have to provide this kind of transparency because their past deceptions have led to the suspicion that they are trying to conceal a program for the development of nuclear weapons.

If they are willing to settle for a purely peaceful nuclear energy program, they can reap considerable rewards from their European negotiating partners: Britain, France, and Germany. All Iran needs to do is accept a deal that guarantees it a permanent supply of nuclear fuel at market prices from abroad. In return for yielding on its claimed right to be able to enrich uranium, Iran could gain entrance to the World Trade Organization and obtain desperately needed foreign investment and trade benefits from the European Union.

A Dubai-based newspaper said Sunday it stands by a story in which it quoted Iran's president as saying he might curtail oil sales if his nation is referred to the U.N. Security Council for possible sanctions over its nuclear program.

However, the Khaleej Times acknowledged that the confusion might have arisen because the reporter, a freelance journalist, told the president she was working for another paper.After the story quoting Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad appeared Saturday, the president's office issued a statement saying he "never had an interview, either oral or written" with the newspaper.

On Sunday, the Khaleej Times acknowledged that the confusion might have arisen because the reporter, a freelance journalist, told the president she was working for another paper.

...The paper said that in the interview, Ahmadinejad was asked about last month's resolution by the International Atomic Energy Agency, which warned Iran it would be referred to the Security Council unless it allayed fears about its nuclear program.

"If Iran's case is sent to the Security Council, we will respond by many ways, for example, by holding back on oil sales or limiting inspections of our nuclear facilities," Ahmadinejad said, according to the newspaper. The president's office responded by saying "such a claim is nothing more than a mere fabrication," according to the official Islamic Republic News Agency.

Iran pumps about 4 million barrels daily, making it the second-largest producer in the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries after Saudi Arabia.Crude oil exports normally account for about 80 percent of Iran's hard currency income, and an oil official last month projected revenues from oil exports this year at $43 billion.If Iran were to curtail its exports by a substantial amount, world oil prices would rise, although Tehran would lose revenue...