Why Edwards Is So Right About Iran
by Todd Bennett, Sun Oct 07, 2007 at 09:10:12 PM EDT
There have been those on this site that questioning my foreign affairs understanding and by extension, making my so called lack of understanding an example of Edwards "weakness" on Iran. Let's take a look, shall we?
First, we have the idea that Iran has plenty of oil. Well, they do. In fact they are the world's second ranked domestic producer. See here courtesy of the Energy Information Association: http://www.eia.doe.gov/emeu/cabs/Iran/Ba
Iran is OPEC's second-largest oil producer and the fourth-largest crude oil exporter in the world. According to Oil and Gas Journal, Iran has 136 billion barrels of proven oil reserves, or roughly 10 percent of the world's total proven petroleum reserves as of January 1, 2007. Iran has 40 producing fields, 27 onshore and 13 offshore, with the majority of crude oil reserves located in the southwestern Khuzestan region near the Iraqi border. Iran's crude oil is generally medium in sulfur content and in the 28°-35° API range.
Iran is OPEC's second-largest producer after Saudi Arabia. In 2006, Iran produced an estimated 4.2 million barrels per day (bbl/d) of total liquids, of which 3.8 million bbl/d was crude oil, equal to 5 percent of global production.
Iran's oil consumption totaled 1.6 million bbl/d in 2006. The Iranian government heavily subsidizes the price of refined oil products which has contributed to increased domestic demand. Iran has limited refinery capacity to produce light fuels, and imports much of its gasoline supply. Iranian domestic oil demand is mainly for gasoline and automotive gasoils, but domestic demand for other oil products are declining due to the substitution of natural gas. However, it is an overall net petroleum products exporter due to large exports of residual fuel oil. Oil export revenues represent the majority of Iran's total exports earnings, but the country suffers from budget deficits due to a growing population and large government subsidies on gasoline and food products. In 2005, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) estimated that energy subsidies accounted for 12 percent of Iran's GDP, the highest rate in the world according to an International Energy Agency (IEA) study.
Iran produced 6 million bbl/d of crude oil in 1974, but has been unable to produce at that level since the 1979 revolution due to a combination of war, limited investment, sanctions, and a high rate of natural decline in Iran's mature oil fields. Iran's oil fields need structural upgrades including enhanced oil recovery (EOR) efforts such as natural gas injection. Iran's fields have a natural annual decline rate estimated at 8 percent onshore and 10 percent offshore, while current Iranian recovery rates are 24-27 percent, 10 percent less than the world average. It is estimated that 400,000-500,000 bbl/d of crude production is lost annually due to reservoir damage and decreases in existing oil deposits.
So here we have information that sugest that what I say is true: That Iran has plenty of oil, but perversely, has to import gasoline due to a lack of refining capacity. Read further, and you will find an interesting fact: Iran does indeed need foreign help to modernize its energy production, and to provide for its' people.
The Azadegan project phases I and II represent the greatest potential increase in Iranian crude oil production. Azadegan contains 26 billion barrels of proven crude oil reserves, but is geologically complex and difficult to extract. Iran and Venezuela have agreed on a $4 billion investment in the Ayacucho 7 block, where there are an estimated 31 billion barrels of oil. Iran's Northern Drilling Company (NDC) has also worked with Russia's Lukoil on oil field development in the Caspian Sea. (See Caspian Sea Analysis Brief)
Iran plans to increase oil production to over 5 million bbl/d by 2010, but it will need foreign help. According to Global Insight, an estimated $25-35 billion is required to meet the government's 5.8 million bbl/d target by 2015. Investment in Iran's energy sector has been tempered due to the election of the conservative government of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in 2005, the international controversy surrounding the Iranian uranium enrichment and nuclear program, and economic sanctions. According to the IEA 2007 Medium-Term Oil Market Report, Iran will not be able to increase its net expansion capacity through 2012.
U.S. sanctions against Iran due to Iran's historic support for international terrorism and its actions against non-belligerent shipping in the Persian Gulf impact the development of its petroleum sector. According to the Iran Transactions Regulations, administered by the U.S. Department of Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), U.S. persons may not directly or indirectly trade, finance, or facilitate any goods, services or technology going to or from Iran, including goods, services or technology that would benefit the Iranian oil industry. U.S. persons are also prohibited from entering into or approving any contract that includes the supervision, management or financing of the development of petroleum resources located in Iran.
The state-owned National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC) is responsible for oil and gas production and exploration. The National Iranian South Oil Company (NISOC), a subsidiary of NIOC, accounts for 80 percent of local oil production covering the provinces of Khuzestan, Bushehr, Fars, and Kohkiluyeh va Boyer Ahamd. Though private ownership of upstream functions is prohibited under the Iranian constitution, the government has allowed for buyback contracts which allow international oil companies (IOCs) to enter exploration and development through an Iranian affiliate. The contractor receives a remuneration fee, usually an entitlement to oil or gas from the developed operation. In August 2007, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad appointed NIOC executive Gholamhossein Nozari to serve as Acting Oil Minister, replacing Vaziri Hamaneh and creating controversy over President Ahmadinejad's role in the energy sector.
According to International Energy Agency's Monthly Oil Data Service and Global Trade Atlas, Iran's net crude and product exports in 2006 averaged 2.5 million bbl/d, primarily to Japan, China, India, South Korea, Italy, and other Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) nations, making it the fourth-largest exporter of crude oil in the world. In 2006, Iran's oil export revenues amounted to $54 billion.
Iran has the largest oil tanker fleet in the Middle East, the National Iranian Tanker Company, which holds 29 ships including Very Large Crude Carriers. Kharg Island is the country's largest terminal with a holding capacity of 16 million barrels of oil and a loading capacity of 5 million bbl/d, followed by Lavan Island with capacity to store 5 million barrels and loading capacity of 200,000 bbl/d. Other important terminals include Kish Island, Abadan and Bandar Mahshar, and Neka, which helps facilitate imports from the Caspian region. The Strait of Hormuz, on the southeastern coast of Iran, is an important route for oil exports from Iran and other Persian Gulf countries. (See Persian Gulf Analysis Brief) At its narrowest point the Strait of Hormuz is 34 miles wide, yet an estimated 17 million barrels, or roughly two-fifths of all seaborne traded oil, flows through the Strait daily. Iranian Heavy Crude Oil is Iran's largest crude export at 1.6 million bbl/d followed by Iranian Light at 1 million bbl/d.
Iran's total refinery capacity is 1.5 million bbl/d from nine refineries operated by the National Iranian Oil Refining and Distribution Company (NIORDC), a NIOC subsidiary. Iranian refineries are unable to keep pace with domestic demand, and face major infrastructure problems. The country plans to add around 985,000 bbl/d of refining capacity by 2012, mostly through expansions and upgrades for gasoline yields at the Bandar Abbas, Bushehr, and the 90-year-old Abadan refineries. Large expansion projects at Bandar Abbas, including new catalytic reformers, distillation units, and condensate splitters will help supply the domestic demand, but it will probably not all gasoline imports. Iran has also discussed joint ventures in Asia, including China, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Singapore to expand refining activity.
Iran has an expansive domestic oil network including 5 pipelines, and multiple international pipeline projects under consideration. Recently, an expansion of the 150 mile pipeline from the port of Neka on the Caspian coast to Rey, Tabriz, and Tehran refineries has reached a capacity of 300,000 bbl/d according to Global Insight. Iran has invested in its import capacity at the Caspian port to handle increased product shipments from Russia and Azerbaijan, and enable crude swaps with Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan. In the case of crude swaps, the oil from the Caspian is consumed domestically in Iran, and an equivalent amount of oil is produced for export through the Persian Gulf with a Swiss-trading arm of NIOC for a swap fee.
In 2006, Iran imported over 192,000 bbl/d of gasoline and relied upon imports to meet almost half of its fuel needs costing $5 billion. Gasoline
Iran is the second biggest gasoline importer in the world after the United States, consuming over 400,000 bbl/d. According to FACTS Global Energy, Iran imported over 192,000 bbl/d of gasoline in 2006 costing $5 billion. The gasoline consumption growth rate has averaged ten percent annually over the past six years, and the cost of imports is expected to reach $6 billion in 2007, up from $2.8 billion in 2005. Gasoline prices are heavily subsidized, and sold below the market price at around 42 cents per gallon, which has encouraged increased consumption. An increase in vehicle sales in recent years has also contributed to the problem. According to PFC Energy, car ownership in Iran grew 250 percent between 1990 and 2006, and a majority of these vehicles are older models. Gasoline powered vehicles in Iran are expected to reach 14.9 million by the end of 2007. Iran does not have sufficient refining capacity to meets its domestic gasoline and other light fuel needs. Therefore Iran imports gasoline from India, Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan, the Netherlands, France, Singapore, and the United Arab Emirates. Iran also imports from large, multinational wholesalers such as BP, Shell, Total, Vitol, LUKoil, and several Chinese companies.
Read: Iran competes with the United States for gasoline imports. Could that be the real reason we want sanctions?
Continuing, perhaps a look at our future if we don't stop our own addiction to SUV's and the like:
New Gasoline Rationing System
In June 2007, the Iranian government instituted a gasoline rationing system. The decision followed a 25 percent price increase to 42 cents per gallon in May. NIORDC is responsible for the program which allows private cars to purchase 26 gallons per month and taxis to buy 211 gallons per month. The rations and increased costs are politically unpopular in Iran. Customers are allowed to purchase their ration six months in advance. Part-time taxis, commercial vehicles, and government vehicles also have special allowances. Records are maintained on smart cards, and later this year the government is expected to announce the price for gasoline bought beyond quota levels.
Iran's gasoline consumption dropped 30 percent immediately after the rationing scheme was adopted. NIOC executive, Hojjatollah Ghanimifard, stated that Iranian gasoline imports for August 2007 dropped 14 percent, although an additional $1.5 billion was requested by the Iranian Oil Ministry to increase gasoline imports through March 2008. The International Energy Agency reported in its August 2007 Oil Market Update that gasoline consumption will likely increase again due to the fact that Iran allows advance purchase of gasoline at a subsidized rate. The combination of rationing, price hikes, increased refining capacity, as well as compressed natural gas (CNG) production, will reduce Iranian gasoline import demand by an estimated 30,000 bbl/d in the next three years according to FACTS Global Energy.
As we have established, Iran is indeed in aprecarious enenrgy production position, and is in further peril if the U.S. is to impose global sanctions. We now delve into their nuclear program, which like most threats to our own security, we helped to create. Wow. href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nuclear_program_of_Iran">http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nuclear_pro gram_of_Iran
Nuclear program of Iran
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
This article is about Iran's nuclear power program. For information about allegations of Iran developing nuclear weapons, see Iran and weapons of mass destruction
Nuclear program of Iran
Anti-aircraft guns guarding Natanz Nuclear Facility.The Iranian nuclear program was launched in the 1950s with the help of the United States as part of the Atoms for Peace program. After the Iranian Revolution in 1979, the government temporarily disbanded the program, and then revived it with less Western assistance than during the pre-revolution era. Iran's current effort includes several research sites, a uranium mine, a nuclear reactor, and uranium processing facilities that include a uranium enrichment plant. The Iranian government asserts that the program's goal is to develop nuclear power plants, and that it plans to use them to generate 6,000 MW of electricity by 2010. The U.S. and some other nations' officials allege the program covers an attempt to acquire nuclear weapons. Iran's officials have categorically denied these accusations and insisted that they will maintain their right to peaceful nuclear technology.
Gawdat Bahgat, Director of the Center for Middle Eastern Studies at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, asserts that Iranian's nuclear program is formed by three forces: one, perception of security threats from Pakistan, Iraq, Israel, and the United States; two, domestic economic and political dynamics; and three, national pride. Bahgat further outlines four key influences on Iran's relations with the international community and how that impacts Iran's position on its nuclear program:
Iranian officials have little confidence in the international community because of its behavior during the 1980s Iran-Iraq war. During that war the larger and more populous Iran had the upper hand, but to close the geographic and demographic gap, Saddam Hussein used chemical weapons against Iranian troops and civilians. These chemical weapons killed or injured thousands of Iranians and played a major role in turning the war in favor of Iraq. The international community was notably indifferent, doing little to condemn Iraq or to protect Iran. This indifference has reinforced the Iranian view that 'Iran is fully justified in arming itself with nuclear weapons for defense and deterrence.'  The Gulf war (1990-91) only confirmed the new perceptions. As Shahram Chubin asserts, "Iran has learned from its war with Iraq that, for deterrence to operate, the threatening state must be confronted with the certainty of an equivalent response. The threat of in-kind retaliation (or worse) deterred Iraq's use of chemical weapons in Desert Storm; it appears that the absence of such a retaliatory capability facilitated its decision to use chemical weapons against Iran."
Lack of confidence in the international community was reinforced when many nations, under pressure from the United States, rejected or withdrew from signed commercial deals with the Iranian nuclear authority.
Most of the information regarding Iran's nuclear capability is classified and thus one can not make accurate assessments. "However, based on open sources, some analysts believe that Tehran has developed a significant indigenous nuclear infrastructure. Its programme is more advanced than Libya's prior to 2003, but less developed than that of North Korea." Iran's "indigenous nuclear infrastructure" is open to IAEA inspection and even school tour groups, and so hardly needs be the subject of beliefs or speculation.
"Despite long-time accusations that Iran is pursuing nuclear weapons, no one has produced a 'smoking gun.' However, the scope and long secrecy of Iranian nuclear activities have led many observers to conclude that Iran is pursuing such a capability." Iranians assert that some degree of secrecy was necessary as a result of previous US pressures on foreign cooperation with the development of Iran's nuclear energy program.
In 2005, a bipartisan intelligence panel reportedly concluded that American intelligence on Iran was too inadequate to allow firm judgements about Iran's weapons programs.
Currently, about forty states possess the dual-use materials and technologies necessary to build nuclear weapons should they decide to do so. To alleviate concerns that its civilian nuclear program may be diverted to non-peaceful uses, Iran has offered to place additional restrictions on its nuclear program. These offers included, for example, ratifying the Additional Protocol to allow additional inspections, operating Natanz as an international fuel center, renouncing plutonium reprocessing and immediately fabricating all enriched uranium into reactor fuel rods. Iran's offer to open its uranium enrichment program to foreign private and public participation corresponds to suggestions of an IAEA expert committee which was formed to investigate the methods to reduce the risk that sensitive fuel cycle activities could contribute to national nuclear weapons capabilities.
Since 1974 Iran has consistently called for the creation of a nuclear-weapons free zone in the Middle East. Iranian authorities repeatedly assert that nuclear weapons would harm rather than strengthen their security environment, and would confer no strategic benefit on their country. As stated by Hossein Mousavian, a member of Iran's nuclear negotiating team:
It is incorrect to say that Iran's nuclear activities constitute a response to perceived nuclear threats from other states, such as Israel, or to a strategic threat arising from the US presence in Iraq and Afghanistan. It is therefore also incorrect to adduce the existence of this threat as evidence that Iran is aiming at a nuclear weapons programme. Naturally, Iran is concerned by the fact that Israel possesses a substantial nuclear arsenal, but Iran's possession of nuclear weapons would not reduce its fears on this score. Similarly, Iranian concerns regarding the US military presence in the region would in no way be allayed were Iran to possess nuclear weapons. The possession of nuclear weapons would neither be conducive to Iranian security nor in reality enhance the perception of security enjoyed by the Iranian people.
Iranian newspaper clip from 1968 reads: "A quarter of Iran's Nuclear Energy scientists are women." The photograph shows some female Iranian PhDs posing in front of Tehran's research reactor.
U.S.-Iran nuclear co-operation in the 1950s and 60s
The foundations for Iran's nuclear program were laid after a 1953, CIA-supported coup deposed democratically-elected Prime Minister Mohammed Mossadegh and brought Shah (King) Mohammad Reza Pahlavi to power. By 1957, the West judged the regime sufficiently stable and friendly that nuclear proliferation would not become a threat.
That year, a civil nuclear co-operation program was established under the U.S. Atoms for Peace programme. In 1959, the Tehran Nuclear Research Center (TNRC) was established, run by the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI). The TNRC was equipped with a U.S.-supplied, 5-megawatt nuclear research reactor, which became operational in 1967 and was fueled by highly enriched uranium. Iran signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) in 1968 and ratified it in 1970. With the establishment of Iran's atomic agency and the NPT in place, the Shah approved plans to construct, with U.S. help, up to 23 nuclear power stations by the year 2000.
Gawdat Bahgat, a professor of Middle Eastern Studies, states that "Despite assertions that Iran's nuclear program under the Shah was only for peaceful purposes, some sources claim that the Shah intended to build a nuclear weapons capability. In the mid-1970s, the Shah was quoted as saying that Iran would have nuclear weapons 'without a doubt and sooner than one would think.' The Center for Non-proliferation Studies at the Monterey Institute of International Studies claims that the Western intelligence community 'had long suspected that the Shah's nuclear scientists conducted research into military applications.'...despite these speculations about the Shah's intentions, it is important to point out that in 1974, when the AEOI was established, the Shah called for making the entire Middle East a nuclear weapons-free zone (MENWFZ)."
U.S.-Iran nuclear co-operation in the 1970s
Advertisement from the 1970s by American nuclear-energy companies, using Iran's nuclear program as a marketing ployIn March 1974, the Shah envisioned a time when the world's oil supply would run out, and declared, "Petroleum is a noble material, much too valuable to burn... We envision producing, as soon as possible, 23 000 megawatts of electricity using nuclear plants." Bushehr would be the first plant, and would supply energy to the inland city of Shiraz. In 1975, the Bonn firm Kraftwerk Union AG, a joint venture of Siemens AG and AEG Telefunken, signed a contract worth $4 to $6 billion to build the pressurized water reactor nuclear power plant. Construction of the two 1,196 MWe nuclear generating units was subcontracted to ThyssenKrupp, and was to have been completed in 1981.
Yes. Atoms for Peace. Another brilliant Military Industrial Complex creation. Brought to you by? Check this out:
"President Gerald Ford signed a directive in 1976 offering Tehran the chance to buy and operate a U.S.-built reprocessing facility for extracting plutonium from nuclear reactor fuel. The deal was for a complete 'nuclear fuel cycle'." At the time, Richard Cheney was the White House Chief of Staff, and Donald Rumsfeld was the Secretary of Defense. The Ford strategy paper said the "introduction of nuclear power will both provide for the growing needs of Iran's economy and free remaining oil reserves for export or conversion to petrochemicals."
Iran, a U.S. ally then, had deep pockets and close ties to Washington. U.S. and European companies scrambled to do business there.
Yes you read that correctly, Cheney and Rumsfeld helped to create this problem too. Take a look at why Iran turned on us:
Then-United States Secretary of State Henry Kissinger said in 2005, 'I don't think the issue of proliferation came up'. As a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, which Iran signed in 1968, their programme would have been under International Atomic Energy Agency inspection.
After the 1979 Revolution
After the 1979 Revolution, Iran informed the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) of its plans to restart its nuclear program using indigenously-made nuclear fuel, and in 1983 the IAEA even planned to provide assistance to Iran under its Technical Assistance Program to produce enriched uranium. An IAEA report stated clearly that its aim was to "contribute to the formation of local expertise and manpower needed to sustain an ambitious program in the field of nuclear power reactor technology and fuel cycle technology". However, the IAEA was forced to terminate the program under U.S. pressure. The revolution was a turning point in terms of foreign co-operation on nuclear technology.
Another result of the 1979 Revolution was France's refusal to give any enriched uranium to Iran after 1979. Iran also didn't get back its investment from Eurodif. The joint stock company Eurodif was formed in 1973 by France, Belgium, Spain and Sweden. In 1975 Sweden's 10% share in Eurodif went to Iran as a result of an arrangement between France and Iran. The French government subsidiary company Cogéma and the Iranian Government established the Sofidif (Société franco-iranienne pour l'enrichissement de l'uranium par diffusion gazeuse) enterprise with 60% and 40% shares, respectively. In turn, Sofidif acquired a 25% share in EURODIF, which gave Iran its 10% share of Eurodif. Reza Shah Pahlavi lent 1 billion dollars (and another 180 million dollars in 1977) for the construction of the Eurodif factory, to have the right of buying 10% of the production of the site.
The U.S. was also paid to deliver new fuel and upgrade its power in accordance with a contract signed before the revolution. The U.S. delivered neither the fuel nor returned the billions of dollars payment it had received.
We ripped them off! No wonder they are so angry! We were not alone either:
Germany was paid in full, totaling billions of dollars, for the two nuclear facilities in Bushehr, but after three decades, Germany has also refused to export any equipment or refund the money. Iran's government suspended its payments and tried refunding the loan by making pressure on France by handling militant groups, including the Hezbollah who took French citizens hostage in the 1980s. In 1982, president François Mitterrand refused to give any uranium to Iran, which also claimed the $1 billion debt. In 1986, Eurodif manager Georges Besse was assassinated; the act was allegedly claimed by left-wing militants from Action Directe. However, they denied any responsibility during their trial. In their investigation La République atomique, France-Iran le pacte nucléaire, David Carr-Brown and Dominique Lorentz pointed out toward the Iranian intelligence services' responsibility. More importantly, they also showed how the French hostage scandal was connected with the Iranian blackmail. Finally an agreement was found in 1991: France refunded more than 1.6 billion dollars. Iran remained shareholder of Eurodif via Sofidif, a Franco-Iranian consortium shareholder to 25% of Eurodif. However, Iran abstained itself from asking for the produced uranium.
Kraftwerk Union, the joint venture of Siemens AG and AEG Telefunken who had signed a contract with Iran in 1975, fully withdrew from the Bushehr nuclear project in July 1979, after work stopped in January 1979, with one reactor 50% complete, and the other reactor 85% complete. They said they based their action on Iran's non-payment of $450 million in overdue payments. The company had received $2.5 billion of the total contract. Their cancellation came after certainty that the Iranian government would unilaterally terminate the contract themselves, following the revolution, which paralyzed Iran's economy and led to a crisis in Iran's relations with the West. The French company Framatome, a subsidiary of Areva, also withdrew itself.
In 1984, Kraftwerk Union did a preliminary assessment to see if it could resume work on the project, but declined to do so while the Iran-Iraq War continued. In April of that year, the U.S. State Department said, "We believe it would take at least two to three years to complete construction of the reactors at Bushehr." The spokesperson also said that the light water power reactors at Bushehr "are not particularly well-suited for a weapons program." The spokesman went on to say, "In addition, we have no evidence of Iranian construction of other facilities that would be necessary to separate plutonium from spent reactor fuel."
The Bushehr reactors were then damaged by multiple Iraqi air strikes between March 24, 1984 to 1988 and work on the nuclear program came to a standstill. In 1990, Iran began to look outwards towards new partners for its nuclear program; however, due to a radically different political climate and punitive U.S. economic sanctions, few candidates existed.
According to a report by the Argentine justice, Iran signed three agreements with Argentina in 1987-88. Argentina has had a National Atomic Energy Commission since 1950, and completed its first nuclear reactor, Atucha I in 1974 and Embalse in 1984, a year after the return to democracy. The first Iranian-Argentine agreement involved help in converting a nuclear reactor in Tehran so that it could use 20%-enriched uranium (ie, low-grade uranium that cannot be used for weapons production) and indicates that it included the shipment of the 20%-enriched uranium to Iran. The second and third agreements were for technical assistance, including components, for the building of pilot plants for uranium-dioxide conversion and fuel fabrication. Under US pressure, assistance was reduced, but not completely terminated, and negotiations with the aim of re-establishing the three agreements took pace from early 1992 to 1994.
So France makes good, and we steal. This cabal is shameless. Next we take a look at recent developments:
From the beginning of 1990s, Russian Federation formed a joint research organization with Iran called Persepolis which provided Iran with Russian nuclear experts, and technical information stolen from the West by GRU and SVR, according to GRU defector Stanislav Lunev . He said that five Russian institutions, including the Russian Federal Space Agency helped Tehran to improve its missiles. The exchange of technical information with Iran was personally approved by the SVR director Trubnikov .
In 1995, Iran signed a contract with Russia to resume work on the partially-complete Bushehr plant, installing into the existing Bushehr I building a 915MWe VVER-1000 pressurized water reactor, with completion expected in 2007. There are no current plans to complete the Bushehr II reactor.
In 1996, the U.S. tried, without success, to block the People's Republic of China from selling to Tehran a conversion plant. The PRC also provided Iran with gas needed to test the uranium enrichment process.
2000 - August 2006
Seen here in this ISNA footage is Gholam Reza Aghazadeh and AEOI officials with a sample of Yellowcake during a public announcement on the April 11, 2006, in Mashad that Iran had managed to successfully complete the fuel cycle by itself.On August 14, 2002, Alireza Jafarzadeh, a prominent Iranian dissident, revealed to the general public the existence of two under-construction nuclear sites: a uranium enrichment facility in Natanz (part of which is underground), and a heavy water facility in Arak. It's possible that intelligence agencies already knew about these facilities but the reports had been classified.
The IAEA immediately sought access to these facilities and further information and co-operation from Iran regarding its nuclear program. According to arrangements in force at the time for implementation of Iran's safeguards agreement with the IAEA, Iran was not required to allow IAEA inspections of a new nuclear facility until six months before nuclear material is introduced into that facility. At the time, Iran was not even required to inform the IAEA of the existence of the facility. This 'six months' clause was standard for implementation of all IAEA safeguards agreements until 1992, when the Board of Governors decided that facilities should be reported during the planning phase, even before construction began. Iran was the last country to accept that decision, and only did so February 26, 2003, after the IAEA investigation began..
France, Germany and the United Kingdom (the "EU-3") undertook a diplomatic initiative with Iran to resolve questions about its nuclear program. On October 21, 2003, in Tehran, the Iranian government and EU-3 Foreign Ministers issued a statement in which Iran agreed to co-operate with the IAEA, to sign and implement an Additional Protocol as a voluntary, confidence-building measure, and to suspend its enrichment and reprocessing activities during the course of the negotiations. The EU-3 in return explicitly agreed to recognise Iran's nuclear rights and to discuss ways Iran could provide "satisfactory assurances" regarding its nuclear power programme, after which Iran would gain easier access to modern technology. Iran signed an Additional Protocol on December 18, 2003, and agreed to act as if the protocol were in force, making the required reports to the IAEA and allowing the required access by IAEA inspectors, pending Iran's ratification of the Additional Protocol.
The IAEA reported November 10, 2003, that "it is clear that Iran has failed in a number of instances over an extended period of time to meet its obligations under its Safeguards Agreement with respect to the reporting of nuclear material and its processing and use, as well as the declaration of facilities where such material has been processed and stored." Iran was obligated to inform the IAEA of its importation of uranium from China and subsequent use of that material in uranium conversion and enrichment activities. It was also obligated to report to the IAEA experiments with the separation of plutonium. A comprehensive list of Iran's specific "breaches" of its IAEA safeguards agreement, which the IAEA described as part of a "pattern of concealment," can be found in the November 15, 2004 report of the IAEA on Iran's nuclear programme. Iran attributes its failure to report certain acquisitions and activities on US obstructionism, which reportedly included pressuring the IAEA to cease providing technical assistance to Iran's uranium conversion program in 1983.
On the question of whether Iran had a hidden nuclear weapons program, the IAEA reported in November 2003 that it found "no evidence" that the previously undeclared activities were related to a nuclear weapons program, but also that it was unable to conclude that Iran's nuclear programme was exclusively peaceful. The IAEA remains unable to draw such a conclusion since the IAEA only certifies the absence of undeclared nuclear activities for nations that have formally ratified the Additional Protocol. According to the IAEA's own Annual Safeguards Implementation Report of 2004, of the 61 states where both the NPT safeguards and the Additional protocol are implemented, the IAEA has certified the absence of undeclared nuclear activity for only 21 countries, leaving Iran in the same category as 40 other countries including Canada, the Czech Republic, and South Africa. Nevertheless, Iran did voluntarily implement the Additional Protocol, and the IAEA certified in Jan 31, 2006 that "Iran has continued to facilitate access under its Safeguards Agreement as requested by the Agency, and to act as if the Additional Protocol is in force, including by providing in a timely manner the requisite declarations and access to locations." As of August 2007, Iran and the IAEA entered into an agreement on the modalities of resolving additional outstanding issue.
The IAEA Board of Governors eventually concluded that Iran's past safeguards "breaches" and "failures" constituted "non-compliance" with its Safeguards Agreement even though the IAEA had certified that there was no diversion of fissile material to military use, the sole basis for a referral to the UN Security Counsel as specified in Article 19 of Iran's safeguards agreement. The Board deferred a formal decision on this for nearly two years, until September 24, 2005, in order to encourage Iran to co-operate with the EU-3 diplomatic initiative. The Board deferred the formal report to the UN Security Council, required by Article XII.C of the IAEA Statute, for another five months, until February 27, 2006. The IAEA Board of Governors opted to vote on the resolution rather than adopting it by consensus, its usual approach.
EU three.Under the terms of the Paris Agreement, on November 14, 2004, Iran's chief nuclear negotiator announced a voluntary and temporary suspension of its uranium enrichment program (enrichment is not a violation of the NPT) and the voluntary implementation of the Additional Protocol, after pressure from the United Kingdom, France, and Germany acting on behalf of the European Union (EU) (known in this context as the EU-3). The measure was said at the time to be a voluntary, confidence-building measure, to continue for some reasonable period of time (six months being mentioned as a reference) as negotiations with the EU-3 continued. On November 24, Iran sought to amend the terms of its agreement with the EU to exclude a handful of the equipment from this deal for research work. This request was dropped four days later.
In early August 2005, Iran removed seals on its uranium enrichment equipment in Isfahan, which UK officials termed a "breach of the Paris Agreement" though a case can be made that the EU violated the terms of the Paris Agreement by demanding that Iran abandon nuclear enrichment . Several days later, the EU-3 offered Iran a package in return for permanent cessation of enrichment. Reportedly, it included benefits in the political, trade and nuclear fields, as well as long-term supplies of nuclear materials and assurances of non-aggression by the EU (and not the US),. Mohammad Saeedi, the deputy head of Iran's atomic energy organization rejected the offer, terming it "very insulting and humiliating" and other independent analysts characterized the EU offer as an "empty box". These developments coincided with the election of President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad, and the appointment of Ali Larijani as the chief Iranian nuclear negotiator .
In September 2005, IAEA Director General Mohammad ElBaradei reported that "most" highly-enriched uranium traces found in Iran by agency inspectors came from imported centrifuge components, validating Iran's claim that the traces were due to contamination. Sources in Vienna and the State Department reportedly stated that, for all practical purposes, the HEU issue has been resolved.
In January 2006, James Risen, a New York Times reporter, alleged in his book State of War that in February 2000, a U.S. covert operation -- code-named Operation Merlin -- had backfired. It originally aimed to provide Iran with a flawed design for building a nuclear weapon, in order to delay the alleged Iranian nuclear weapons program. Instead, the plan may have accelerated Iran's nuclear program by providing useful information, once the flaws were identified .
On February 4, 2006, the 35 member Board of Governors of the IAEA voted 27-3 (with five abstentions: Algeria, Belarus, Indonesia, Libya and South Africa) to report Iran to the UN Security Council. The measure was sponsored by the United Kingdom, France and Germany, and it was backed by the United States. Two permanent council members, Russia and China, agreed to referral only on condition that the council take no action before March. The three members who voted against referral were Venezuela, Syria and Cuba.
In late February, 2006, IAEA Director Mohammad El-Baradei raised the suggestion of a deal, whereby Iran would give up industrial-scale enrichment and instead limit its program to a small-scale pilot facility, and agree to import its nuclear fuel from Russia. The Iranians indicated that while they would not be willing to give up their right to enrichment in principle, they were willing to consider the compromise solution. However in March 2006, the Bush Administration made it clear that they would not accept any enrichment at all in Iran.
On April 11, 2006, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad announced that Iran had successfully enriched uranium. President Ahmadinejad made the announcement in a televised address from the northeastern city of Mashhad, where he said "I am officially announcing that Iran joined the group of those countries which have nuclear technology." The uranium was enriched to 3.5% using over a hundred centrifuges. At this level, it could be used in a nuclear reactor if enough of it was made; uranium for a nuclear bomb would require around 90% enrichment and many thousands of centrifuges to be built and operated.
On April 13, 2006, after US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said (on April 12, 2006) the Security Council must consider "strong steps" to induce Tehran to change course in its nuclear ambition; President Ahmadinejad vowed that Iran won't back away from uranium enrichment and that the world must treat Iran as a nuclear power, saying "Our answer to those who are angry about Iran achieving the full nuclear fuel cycle is just one phrase. We say: Be angry at us and die of this anger," because "We won't hold talks with anyone about the right of the Iranian nation to enrich uranium."
On April 14, 2006, The Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS) published a series of analyzed satellite images of Iran's nuclear facilities at Natanz and Esfahan. Featured in these images is a new tunnel entrance near the Uranium Conversion Facility (UCF) at Esfahan and continued construction at the Natanz uranium enrichment site. In addition, a series of images dating back to 2002 shows the underground enrichment buildings and its subsequent covering by soil, concrete, and other materials. Both facilities were already subject to IAEA inspections and safeguards.
Iran responded to the demand to stop enrichment of uranium August 24, 2006, offering to return to the negotiation table but refusing to end enrichment.
Qolam Ali Hadad-adel, speaker of Iran's parliament, said on August 30, 2006, that Iran had the right to "peaceful application of nuclear technology and all other officials agree with this decision," according to the semi-official Iranian Students News Agency. "Iran opened the door to negotiations for Europe and hopes that the answer which was given to the nuclear package would bring them to the table.""
August 31, 2006 and later
President George W. Bush insisted on August 31, 2006 that "there must be consequences" for Iran's defiance of demands that it stop enriching uranium. He said "the world now faces a grave threat from the radical regime in Iran. The Iranian regime arms, funds, and advises Hezbollah." The U.N.'s nuclear watchdog agency issued a report saying Iran has not suspended its uranium enrichment activities, a United Nations official said. The report by the International Atomic Energy Agency opens the way for U.N. Security Council sanctions against Tehran. Facing a Security Council deadline to stop its uranium enrichment activities, Iran has left little doubt it will defy the West and continue its nuclear programme.
A congressional report released on August 23, 2006 made many allegations that have been strongly disputed by the IAEA calling it "erroneous" and "misleading".""
John Bolton, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, said on August 31, 2006 that he expected action to impose sanctions to begin immediately after the deadline passes, with meetings of high-level officials in the coming days, followed by negotiations on the language of the sanctions resolution. Bolton said that when the deadline passes "a little flag will go up.""In terms of what happens afterward, at that point, if they have not suspended all uranium enrichment activities, they will not be in compliance with the resolution," he said. "And at that point, the steps that the foreign ministers have agreed upon previously ... we would begin to talk about how to implement those steps." The five permanent members of the Security Council, plus Germany, previously offered Iran a package of incentives aimed at getting the country to restart negotiations, but Iran refused to halt its nuclear activities first. Incentives included offers to improve Iran's access to the international economy through participation in groups such as the World Trade Organization and to modernize its telecommunications industry. The incentives also mentioned the possibility of lifting restrictions on U.S. and European manufacturers wanting to export civil aircraft to Iran. And a proposed long-term agreement accompanying the incentives offered a "fresh start in negotiations."
Ordinary Iranians overwhelmingly favor their country's nuclear program, interviews and surveys show. The support runs deep in the population of 68 million, cutting across differences of education, age and, most significantly, attitudes toward their government.
We build monster then threaten the monster when monster gets mad we refuse to feed it. As for intent:
The Iranian government has repeatedly made compromise offers to place strict limits on its nuclear program beyond what the Non-Proliferation Treaty and the Additional Protocol legally require of Iran, in order to ensure that the program cannot be secretly diverted to the manufacture of weapons. These offers include operating Iran's nuclear program as an international consortium, with the full participation of foreign governments. This offer by the Iranians matched a proposed solution put forth by an IAEA expert committee that was investigating the risk that civilian nuclear technologies could be used to make bombs. Iran has also offered to renounce plutonium extraction technology, thus ensuring that its heavy water reactor at Arak cannot be used to make bombs either. More recently, the Iranians have reportedly also offered to operate uranium centrifuges that automatically self-destruct if they are used to enrich uranium beyond what is required for civilian purposes. However, despite offers of nuclear cooperation by the five permanent members of the UN Security Council and Germany, Iran has refused to suspend its enrichment program as the Council has demanded. Iran's representative asserted that dealing with the issue in the Security Council was unwarranted and void of any legal basis or practical utility because its peaceful nuclear programme posed no threat to international peace and security, and, that it ran counter to the views of the majority of United Nations Member States, which the Council was obliged to represent.
"They should know that the Iranian nation will not yield to pressure and will not let its rights be trampled on," Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad told a crowd August 31, 2006 in a televised speech in the northwestern Iranian city of Orumiyeh. In front of his strongest supporters in one of his provincial power bases, the Iranian leader attacked what he called "intimidation" by the United Nations, which he said was led by the United States. Ahmadinejad criticised a White House rebuff of his offer for a televised debate with President Bush. "They say they support dialog and the free flow of information," he said. "But when debate was proposed, they avoided and opposed it." Ahmadinejad said that sanctions "cannot dissuade Iranians from their decision to make progress," according to Iran's state-run IRNA news agency. "On the contrary, many of our successes, including access to the nuclear fuel cycle and producing of heavy water, have been achieved under sanctions." Iran has been under IAEA investigation since 2003, with inspectors turning up evidence of clandestine plutonium experiments, black-market centrifuge purchases and military links to what Iran says is a civilian nuclear program.
Iran insists enrichment activities are intended for peaceful purposes, but much of the West, including the United States, allege that Iran is pursuing nuclear weapons. The August 31, 2006 deadline calls for Iran to comply with U.N. Resolution 1696 and end its nuclear activities or face the possibility of economic sanctions. The United States believes the council will agree to implement sanctions when high-level ministers reconvene in mid-September, U.S. Undersecretary of State Nicholas Burns said. "We're sure going to work toward that [sanctions] with a great deal of energy and determination because this cannot go unanswered," Burns said. "The Iranians are obviously proceeding with their nuclear research; they are doing things that the International Atomic Energy Agency does not want them to do, the Security Council doesn't want them to do. There has to be an international answer, and we believe there will be one."
So Iran makes compromise offers, but probably can't be trusted.
Still, they seem to have little intent to do anything other than improve their energy capacity.
Iran asserts that there is no legal basis for Iran's referral to the United Nations Security Council since the IAEA has not proven that previously undeclared activities had a relationship to a weapons program, and that all nuclear material in Iran (including material that may not have been declared) had been accounted for and had not been diverted to military purposes. Article 19 of Iran's safeguards agreement allows a report to the Security Council if the IAEA is unable to verify that nuclear material has not been diverted. Article XII.C of the IAEA Statute requires a report to the UN Security Council for any safeguards noncompliance with the safeguards provisions, such as the 18-year history of "breaches" and "policy of concealment" first reported by the IAEA in November 2003.Iran is under the impression that we intend to Nuke them first, which makes how Hillary voted all the more reckless:
Iran also minimizes the significance of the IAEA's inability to verify the peaceful nature of Iran's nuclear program, arguing the IAEA has only drawn such conclusions in thirty-two states that have implemented the Additional Protocol. The IAEA reported on August 30, 2006 that while it "is able to verify the non-diversion of declared nuclear material in Iran", it "remains unable to verify certain aspects relevant to the scope and nature of Iran's nuclear program" and that Iran's adherence to the recently agreed "action plan" was "essential." Iran also argues that the UN Security Council resolutions demanding a suspension of enrichment constitute a violation of Article IV of the Non-Proliferation Treaty which recognizes the inalienable right of signatory nations to nuclear technology "for peaceful purposes," although the IAEA remains unable to resolve questions about whether Iran's enrichment program is peaceful.
Iran agreed to implement the Additional Protocol under the terms of the October 2003 Tehran agreement and its successor, the November 2004 Paris agreement, and did so for 2 years before withdrawing from the Paris agreement in early 2006 following the breakdown of negotiations with the EU-3. Since then, Iran has offered not only to ratify the Additional Protocol, but to implement transparency measures on its nuclear program that exceed the Additional Protocol, as long as its right to operate an enrichment program is recognized. The UN Security Council, however, insists that Iran must suspend all enrichment-related and reprocessing activities.
On April 9, 2007, Iran announced that it has begun enriching uranium with 3 000 centrifuges, presumably at Natanz enrichment site. "With great honor, I declare that as of today our dear country has joined the nuclear club of nations and can produce nuclear fuel on an industrial scale", said Ahmadinejad.
On April 22, 2007, Iranians foreign ministry spokesman Mohammad Ali Hosseini announced that his country rules out enrichment suspension ahead of talks with EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana on April 25, 2007.
Iran has been repeatedly threatened with nuclear first strikes by the United States. The US Nuclear Posture Review made public in 2002 specifically envisioned the use of nuclear weapons on a first strike basis, even against non-nuclear armed states. Investigative reporter Seymour Hersh has reported that the Bush administration has been planning the use of nuclear weapons against Iran When specifically questioned about the potential use of nuclear weapons against Iran, President Bush claimed that "All options were on the table". According to the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientist, "the president of the United States directly threatened Iran with a preemptive nuclear strike. It is hard to read his reply in any other way."  Nevertheless, the Iranian authorities consistently insist that are not seeking nuclear weapons as a deterrent to the United States, and instead emphasize the creation of a nuclear-arms free zone in the Middle East.
Seymour Hersh is respected, and many believe his dilligent reporting stopped Bush from bombing Iran. The IAEA has even condemned us!
The IAEA has condemned the US over a report written by a congressional committee on the nuclear situation in Iran. The leaked report was called erroneous and misleading in a letter sent to Peter Hoekstra. Allegations in the report of why an inspector was dismissed were branded outrageous and dishonest. One unnamed western diplomat called it deja vu of the false reports made by the US administration to justify the invasion of Iraq.
IAEA officials complain that most U.S. intelligence shared with the U.N. nuclear watchdog agency about Iran's nuclear programme proved to be inaccurate, and none has led to significant discoveries inside Iran.
On 10 May 2007, Agence France-Presse, quoting un-named diplomats, reported that Iran had blocked IAEA inspectors when they sought access to the Iran's enrichment facility. Both Iran and the IAEA vehemently denied the report. On 11 March, 2007, Reuters quoted International Atomic Energy Agency spokesman Marc Vidricaire, "We have not been denied access at any time, including in the past few weeks. Normally we do not comment on such reports but this time we felt we had to clarify the matter...If we had a problem like that we would have to report to the [35-nation IAEA governing] board ... That has not happened because this alleged event did not take place."
On July 30 2007, inspectors from the IAEA spent five hours at the Arak complex, the first such visit since April. Visits to other plants in Iran were expected during the following days. It has been suggested that access may have been granted in an attempt to head off further sanctions.
Next, we find that the IAEA can not even find definitive proof of nefarious intent:
United Nations sanctions
On 31 July 2006 the United Nations Security Council demanded Iran to suspend all enrichment and reprocessing related activities. In December they imposed a series of sanctions on Iran for its non-compliance with IAEA Board resolutions requiring a "voluntary" suspension of enrichment. These sanctions were primarily targetted against the transfer of nuclear and ballistic missile technologies and, in response to concerns of China and Russia, were lighter than that sought by the United States. Following a report from the IAEA that all declared nuclear sites it had inspected were compliant. The Iranians had permitted inspections at non-nuclear facilities such as the Parchin Military Complex, which was suspected of being an undeclared nuclear facility but where no evidence of a nuclear weapons program was found there either. but that this did not apply to activities at non-declared sites, the target of the sanctions were widened in March 2007. The implementation of the sanctions is monitored by a Security Council Committee.
Nuclear power as a political issue
Iran's nuclear program has become political in two ways: local and international. Iranian politicians use it as part of their populist platform, and there is international speculation about Iran's possible use of nuclear technology. Iran is a member of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), which it ratified in 1970 -- however, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) believes that recent Iranian non co-operation makes it impossible to conduct adequate inspections to ensure that the technology is not being diverted for weapons use.
Iran's nuclear programme and the NPT
Main article: Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty
Wikinews has related news:
Former Iranian president Rafsanjani states Iran is enriching uraniumThe Iranian nuclear programme has been controversial although the development of a civilian nuclear power programme is explicitly allowed under the terms of the NPT, there have been allegations that Iran has been illicitly pursuing a nuclear weapons programme, in violation of the NPT. (See Iran and weapons of mass destruction)
The Iranian government says it sees nuclear power as a way to modernise and diversify its energy-sources, other than its large oil and gas reserves. The Iranian public, nearly all political candidates, and the current government are unified on this point: Iran should be developing its peaceful nuclear industry. In addition, it states that Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has issued a fatwa saying that the production, stockpiling and use of nuclear weapons was forbidden under Islam.
Any use for nuclear weapons would be a violation of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), which Iran ratified in 1970. Some of Iran's leaders before the revolution have also expressed their support in this regard. Ardeshir Zahedi for example, who signed Iran into the NPT during the Pahlavi dynasty, in an interview in May 2006, voiced his support for Iran's Nuclear Program stating it as an "inalienable right of Iran".
As Michael Spies of the Lawyer's Committee on Nuclear Policy has explained: "The conclusion that no diversion has occurred certifies that the state in question is in compliance with its undertaking, under its safeguards agreement and Article III of the NPT, to not divert material to non-peaceful purposes. In the case of Iran, the IAEA was able to conclude in its November 2004 report that that all declared nuclear materials had been accounted for and therefore none had been diverted to military purposes. The IAEA reached this same conclusion in September 2005."
Nevertheless, acting under intense US pressure, the IAEA Board of Governors concluded that past Iranian violations of its safeguards agreements resulting doubts about whether Iran's program is peaceful raises questions that are within the competency of the UN Security Council's responsibility for maintaining international peace and security. Some nations, including the United States, claim that Iran also violated its obligation under Article II not to seek or receive assistance in the manuracture of nuclear weapons.
The U.S. push for war is beginning to mirror 2002, as you can gather from this:
Iran's foreign minister has described attempts to stop it from gaining nuclear capabilities as "nuclear apartheid" and "scientific apartheid". In a November 2005 guest column in Le Monde, Manouchehr Mottaki said that the West's demands Iran "surrender its inalienable right to fully master nuclear technology" were "nuclear apartheid".   In subsequent statements in February 2006 he insisted that "Iran rejects all forms of scientific and nuclear apartheid by any world power", and asserted that this "scientific and nuclear apartheid" was "an immoral and discriminatory treatment of signatories to the Non-Proliferation Treaty",  and that Iran has "the right to a peaceful use of nuclear energy and we cannot accept nuclear apartheid".  His words were later echoed in a June 2006 speech by Iran's deputy chief nuclear negotiator Javad Vaeedi, in which he claimed that "developing countries are moving towards destroying technological apartheid". 
The August agreement with the IAEA
A confidential International Atomic Energy Agency's (IAEA) report reviewed by Reuters states that Iran's uranium enrichment program is operating well below capacity, is far from producing nuclear fuel in significant amounts, and is not making significant enrichment progress. The report details Iranian cooperation with IAEA inspectors based on the August 21, 2007 agreement between Iran and the IAEA. According to Reuters, the report is likely to blunt Washington's push for more severe sanctions against Iran. If Washington pushes for tougher sanctions, "our process will face a setback at a minimum, if not a halt," said a senior U.N. official familiar with IAEA program on Iran, reflecting IAEA concerns that U.S.-led efforts to escalate penalties could only corner nationalistic Iran and goad it to freeze out inspectors.
According to the IAEA's published report, the modalities agreed with Iran "cover all remaining issues and the Agency confirmed that there are no other remaining issues and ambiguities regarding Iran's past nuclear program and activities." Furthermore, the agency's delegation is of the view that "the agreement on the above issues shall further promote the efficiency of the implementation of safeguards in Iran and its ability to conclude the exclusive peaceful nature of the Iran's nuclear activities." Crucially, the IAEA has also "been able to verify the non-diversion of the declared nuclear materials at the enrichment facilities in Iran and has therefore concluded that it remains in peaceful use."
Information to suggest they are not diverting for warmongering use. So we have our country having already thieved from them before, and near as I can tell, Bush's biggest problem with Iran is that Iran's oil is not his. Hillary gives us a reckless vote, very similar to the 2002 AUMF vote, and then complains when she gets called on it. And then we have John Edwards. A man who learns from his mistakes. Our brother in peace. His ideas on the subject:
Measured, intelligent. Seems like this guy would make a good President. Continuing:
From Nightline By TERRY MORAN
Feb. 26, 2007
Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards told a group of New Hampshire voters Saturday that he would consider pursuing a nonaggression pact between the United States and Iran.
Edwards' statement came in answer to a voter's question at a house party in Nashua on Saturday morning. Asked about it later in an interview with ABC News, Edwards confirmed that he views such a treaty -- in which the United States would promise not to attack Iran -- as "a possibility down the road." But he emphasized that the Iranian government would first have to change its behavior in several areas.
"I wouldn't give away anything until it became clear what the intent of Iran was, that they've given up any nuclear ambition, that they would no longer sponsor Hezbollah, Hamas and other terrorist organizations," Edwards told ABC News, in an interview to be broadcast on "Nightline" Monday night. "So there would be huge jumps and these things would all have to be verifiable. We'd have to be certain that they were occurring in order to get to that stage. But I think we would consider all of our relations on the table."
Edwards' willingness to pursue a nonaggression pact with the Iranian government could put him at odds not just with President Bush, but also with his Democratic rivals, none of whom has gone as far in advocating an alternative to the administration's increasingly confrontational stance toward Tehran. But Edwards' statement could win him support of many Democratic primary voters, who are deeply mistrustful of the president's policies and motives and deeply concerned about the possibility of another war in the Middle East.
In the "Nightline" interview, Edwards also specifically refused to say whether, as president, he would be willing to use military force to stop Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons.
"I wouldn't make that decision. It would be a foolish thing for the president to say in advance what they would do," Edwards said. "And under no circumstances should the president of the United States ever take anything off the table, but the issue of threats and talking about the use of force is a foolish thing to do. This idea of preemptive strike that came out of the Bush administration I think is also completely unnecessary."
Instead, Edwards advocates what he calls "a much smarter course in Iran," starting with direct negotiations with Tehran on several issues. The United States, Edwards said, should be "engaging Iran directly on both nuclear weapons and on Iraq, bringing our European friends, to put a system of carrots and sticks on the table, a proposal that would allow Iran to do better economically and still have nuclear power without developing a nuclear weapon, with there being consequences, economic consequences if they fail to do that."
Those steps, Edwards argued, would "empower the moderates and the reformers within Iran who want to get on a more responsible course and not on a course toward proliferation."
Finally, from his own blog recently:
"Finally, as I have said before, I believe the Iraq war was mistake and we cannot risk repeating this again in Iran. I voted for the war in Iraq, and I accept responsibility for my vote. Senator Clinton however seems to have learned a different lesson from her vote supporting the war. Senator Clinton recently voted to give President Bush the authority to take the first steps on the road to war with Iran. The truth is that I've learned from my mistakes. I learned that you cannot give President Bush even the first step in the authority to go to war because he cannot be trusted.
"So now, as you look forward to the coming election, I believe that now is the moment for the Democratic Party and the next President to offer the American people real change - and real change begins by ending the war in Iraq for good and denying President Bush the authority to start another war with Iran. I believe that is right course for America to take. And, with your support, we can and will change America for the better."
The choice is clear folks. Hillary does not get it. Obama ducks the vote. Edwards leads. Folks we need to fight false fire by throwing fact fire. John Reid Edwards. Our hope for this country and this world.