Iran offers...

IssueJuly - August 2008
News by Milan Rai

When US president George W. Bush said on 15 June that Iran had “rejected this generous offer out of hand”, you could assume that (a) the offer was not generous and (b) Iran had not rejected it. You wouldn’t go wrong, either, assuming that the media would assist Bush by erasing memories of the recent breakthrough Iranian offer.

The proposal Bush was referring to came from the five permanent members of the UN Security Council (plus Germany), which was conveyed to Tehran by the European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana.

While a spokesperson for Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad did say on the first day of the Solana visit that the idea of suspending uranium enrichment was not “debatable”, the official talks were very positive.

One of the diplomats accompanying Solana actually told the Financial Times the positive atmosphere created by Tehran had been “the strongest ever”.

The Solana package, with Iran having to suspend its uranium enrichment before being granted vague political, economic and security guarantees, is generally agreed to be little different from the “generous offer” rejected by Tehran in 2006.

The mainstream media’s coverage of the new diplomatic device has totally excised any mention of the unprecedented proposals Iran put forward on 13 May, agreeing to the possibility of an international consortium controlling uranium enrichment and nuclear fuel manufacture in facilities on Iranian soil (see last issue).

Iran’s official position on the Solana proposals is that parliament will “study carefully the package” – according to former nuclear negotiator, now speaker of the Iranian parliament, Ali Larijani.

As for the Iranian proposals, an anonymous government official told the Observer that “Both sides have reached a preliminary agreement on common points in the two packages” – the only hint of the 13 May initiative in the mainstream press, and a sign that it is still alive.

The head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Mohamed ElBaradei, said on 21 June that he will resign if there is a military strike on Iran over its nuclear power programme.

Israeli nuclear threat

During June, top Israeli officials – prime minister Ehud Olmert, ambassador to Washington Salai Meridor and transportation minister Shaul Mofaz – made it clear that “attacking Iran, in order to stop its nuclear plans, will be unavoidable” (Shaul Mofaz) if Tehran continued with its nuclear activities.

Exercise “Glorious Spartan 08” on 2 June, saw more than 100 Israeli F-16 and F-15 fighter jets practising long-range strikes, allegedly as a dry run for hitting Iran. According to a report in The Times on 7 June, Israel has prepared plans for striking Iran with tactical nuclear weapons.

Sam Gardiner, retired US air force colonel, told the Huffington Post website: “The signal I received is that Israel does not have the capability to effectively attack Iran’s nuclear facilities.”