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However, Abbasi’s offer came with a small, but significant caveat. Regardless of what the UN decided, the Iranians still have no intention of stopping production of their enriched-uranium program, a program they have steadfastly maintained is strictly for energy and medical purposes.
It should be noted that Abbasi was also the man who had earlier stated that move of its nuclear enrichment program to an underground facility made Iran able to produce nuclear fuel in much greater amounts than it needs for producing medical isotopes. It was an admission some intelligence officials believe indicates Iran plans to use the extra nuclear fuel to build weapons or to train Iranian scientists to produce bomb-grade fuel.
Not surprisingly, Abbasi’s offer was viewed quite favorably by other Iranian officials. Iranian security analyst Mojtaba Bigdeli felt the offer was so generous that it provided the West a “golden opportunity provided by Iran’s goodwill.”
For his part, Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad was also doing his best to bolster Iran’s goodwill image. In an interview with Russian radio, Ahmadinejad went to great lengths to reassure the world that Islam precludes Iran from pursuing nuclear weapons.
In the interview Ahmadinejad said that Iran’s religious beliefs mandated that the Islamist state could not embark on developing nuclear weapons, so any fears to the contrary were simply grounded in religious ignorance. According to Ahmadinejad, Iran had no desire to pursue or possess nuclear arms because “These weapons are directed against people. We oppose them because of our religious beliefs…our religion says that they are prohibited.”
Rather, Ahmadinejad claimed the pursuit of nuclear arms to be just an antiquated and useless 20th century concept, one which required a nation to devote too many precious resources that could otherwise be used for much better and more humanitarian purposes. As he stated, “The new century is an era of knowledge and thought, an era of people, culture and logic.”
As if to show Iran’s commitment to a new Age of Enlightenment, Ahmadinejad’s comments were followed days later by Iran’s Deputy Ambassador to the UN, Eshaq Ale-Habib, calling for a complete world-wide ban of nuclear weapons. Habib claimed that nuclear disarmament was such a pressing issue that Iran felt compelled to make it a top priority of the international community.
Yet, the high road pronouncements emanating from Ahmadinejad and Habib notwithstanding, a more indicative answer to Iran’s real aims probably came in comments made by AEOI director Fereydoun Abbasi shortly after the release of the IAEA report.
In response to questions concerning Iranian policy on future nuclear program negotiations, Abbasi said that the extent of Iran’s nuclear progress had changed the preconditions for Iranian talks with the IAEA and other countries. As such, Abase concluded, “Technically speaking, we should push ahead with our plans.”
Unfortunately for the world, those Iranian plans draw nearer to completion by the day.
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