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On Sunday a high-level delegation of the International Atomic Energy Agency arrived in Tehran. It has to find an answer to the question whether Iran’s nuclear program is targeted for military purposes. At the moment when the Israeli authorities openly speak about their readiness to deliver a blow on Iran’s nuclear facilities, while the United States builds up its military presence in the Persian Gulf, inspectors’ conclusions can become decisive for the developments under the use-of-force scenario.
Tensions ran high when in the middle of January the IAEA announced that Iran began to produce 20 percent enriched uranium at its underground Fordow nuclear plant, the Kommersant daily reported. Soon after this the leading western media reported with reference to the well-informed sources that the war may be waged in spring-summer of 2012. In many respects the IAEA commission’s conclusions will determine whether it comes to the use-of-force scenario. A Russian foreign ministry official told the daily that last week Moscow made clear its point of view to the IAEA leadership saying that “the agency should not make a contribution to demonization of Iran.” “It is necessary to rely only on facts, and not on proposals. There is no convincing proof that Iran’s nuclear program has a military component. Demonization of Iran will lead to its self-isolation. This is dangerous.”
It is still unclear whether official Tehran is ready to satisfy all requests of the IAEA. Judging by the words of Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi this is really so. The minister promised within several days to give an answer to the proposal of EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton to resume the talks among Iran and the “5 + 1” group comprising five permanent members of the UN Security Council and Germany. The last round of the talks took place a year ago and yielded no results. At present, Iran intends to continue the talks and is ready to hold them in Istanbul, Kommersant wrote. Meanwhile, in private conversations Russian diplomats admit that Iranians are complicated negotiators, making clear that their readiness to sit at the negotiating table does not mean their readiness to make concessions. Western diplomats expressed confidence that agreeing to hold the talks Iran simply plays for time.
Washington has undertaken a new psychological attack on Iran, the Nezavisimaya Gazeta daily reported. It was announced that strong weapons to destroy underground nuclear facilities are being developed. A floating base for military operations is heading for the Persian Gulf. At the same time the door for getting out of the crisis is not closed. The IAEA delegation will hold nuclear talks in Tehran. The Iranian side announced its readiness for constructive dialogue.
IAEA inspectors arrived in Tehran to investigate civilian and military use of Iran’s nuclear program, the Moskovsky Komsomolets daily reported. Tehran perceived the inspection calmly and announced that the experts’ visit will destroy hostile intrigues and prove civilian nature of Iran’s nuclear program.
The daily recalled that last week EU foreign policy chiefs coordinated new, tougher sanctions against Iran. In particular, they finalized a ban on concluding new contracts on Iranian oil supplies. Iranian legislators decided to strike a retaliatory blow – to ban oil exports to EU countries beginning from Monday, not waiting for July 1. The more so Turkey gave an encouraging signal announcing that it will not join the EU sanctions and will continue to cooperate with Iran in the energy sector. And who will then become a victim in this story – Europe or Iran? – the daily asked.
“As concerns hydrocarbons exports and imports both parties will suffer losses from stopping trade relations,” Moskovsky Komsomolets citied an analyst from the St. Petersburg-based centre for Middle East studies, Gumer Isayev, as saying. “Undoubtedly, the European Union’s decision to gradually stop Iranian oil imports is politically motivated and in my opinion this is not the European initiative at all. The story demonstrated that today Europe very strongly depends on the United States, including its actions as concerns rendering some decisions. I mean not only the Iranian scenario, but also aggression against Libya,” he said.
Iran’s response in this context looks rather logic, the expert noted. “It is high time for Tehran to take such measures – to cut the oil flow instantly. However, this means serious losses for the Iranian economy. It has to take urgent steps to retarget and to sell excessive volumes to a different country, for instance to China. But it seems to me that Iran will be able to find a new market for oil exports, while Europe will deepen its crisis. This is an extra problem for it,” he said.