Daljit Dhaliwal: What do you make of Iran’s announcement to build ten new nuclear enrichment facilities?
Ervand Abrahamian: It sounds impressive, but it should be taken as grandstanding for internal public opinion. Iran is trying to look tough: it’s going to stand up tall against the United States. The question is what Iran actually does behind closed doors in the negotiations. There, I think they are going to be much more forthcoming and talk about the reality that there is a good offer on the table.
DD: So, it could be interpreted as a positive sign for the international community?
EA: Yes, as long as we are not distracted by what’s said in public but what is being done actually in private.
DD: So, what do you anticipate Iran’s next moves will be over the coming months?
EA: By the end of December Iran has to come back to the United Nations with some counter-offer to the offer that is already there, made by the United States and the United Nations. And there, I think they will be much more forthcoming. They’ll try to still negotiate, bargain over specifics, but they will get what they really need, which is enrichment, but controlled enrichment.
DD: The announcement was made by the Iranian cabinet, which is headed up by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Is he in control of nuclear policy or is it the Supreme Leader or is that a collection of other individuals?
EA: As far as nuclear policy is concerned, it’s not either the president or his cabinet. It’s the Supreme Leader and the National Security Council. That’s where we should listen to really to learn what the policy is.
DD: Is there any significance in him making the announcement?
EA: Yes, he’s a politician — he wants to look tough for his own constituency.
DD: And is this a move that could backfire in the international arena?
EA: It could backfire if people took it seriously. But it’s such an overly ambitious program that I don’t think people in responsible positions are going to take it seriously.
China: IAEA Resolution Aims at Early Resumption of Dialogue, Negotiation
BEIJING, Dec. 1 (Xinhua) — China said a recent resolution on the Iran nuclear issue was aimed at early resumption of dialogue and negotiation, and urged the international community to work for this aim.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang made the remarks as commenting on the resolution passed by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) on Nov. 27, which called for the “full cooperation” of Iran to clarify all outstanding issues involving its nuclear program in Vienna. China cast a “yes” vote on the resolution.
Stressing China’s position on the issue was consistent, Qin said China upheld to maintain the international nuclear non-proliferation regime, while standing for solutions through dialogue and negotiation. The solution should proceed for purpose of the peace and stability in the Middle East.
“Under the current situation, all sides should step up diplomatic efforts for a comprehensive, long-term and appropriate solution to Iran’s nuclear issue,” the spokesman said.
“Sanction is not the purpose in itself,” Qin said, expecting consensus reached in the talks on Iran in Geneva to be comprehensively implemented by relevant parties to maintain the trend for dialogue and negotiation.
On Oct. 1, in the talks between Iran and a UN-backed group of six nations, the United States, Britain, Russia, France, Germany and China in Geneva, Iran agreed in principle to ship most of its existing low-grade enriched uranium to Russia and France, where it would be processed into fuel rods with a purity of 20 percent.
Ervand Abrahamian is CUNY Distinguished Professor. The video was released by WorldFocus on 30 November 2009. The text above is a partial transcript of the interview. The Xinhua article was published by Xinhuanet on 1 December 2009; it is reproduced here for non-profit educational purposes.