MOSCOW. (RIA Novosti political commentator Pyotr Goncharov.) Iran and the European Union recently exchanged mutual ultimatums regarding their agreements on Iran's nuclear program. Will they have serious consequences?
The European Trio of France, Germany and Britain warned Iran in what was nearly an ultimatum that resumption of its uranium-enrichment program would force them to suspend talks and raise the issue at the UN Security Council.
Iran replied by saying that such threats would not solve the problem, and that nothing should infringe upon its legitimate right to create its own nuclear-fuel cycle. The decision to resume the uranium enrichment program was irreversible, Tehran stated, more firmly than ever before.
This is the essence of the mutual haggling over the Iranian "nuclear file" that has become notably more intense in early August. Will the EU submit the file to the UN Security Council, which is fraught with unavoidable sanctions and could lead to the isolation of Iran?
At their latest round of talks in London, the sides appeared to reach a compromise, with the Trio promising to submit a block of economic, political and technological proposals to Iran in late July or early August.
Rumor has it that these proposals comprise minimum demands and maximum advantages for Iran, such as the construction of a nuclear power plant with Western assistance, uninterrupted long-term supply of nuclear fuel, guarantees of national and international security, better economic and trade cooperation with the West, and even the possibility of making Iran Europe's main oil and gas provider. The European Union proposes that in return Iran should preserve the moratorium on its uranium enrichment program.
Tehran, which described the package as "quite acceptable and positive," suddenly changed its tone, saying that the Trio's date for submitting suggestions - August 6 - was "a deliberate attempt at procrastination." Iran will have to resume the enrichment program to "balance" the situation, it said.
This forced the Trio and Javier Solana, EU High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy, to warn that the EU would demand a special session of the Board of Governors of the International Atomic Energy Agency to discuss Iran's nuclear programs.
The decision is unlikely to be made before September, however, by which time Iran's new government led by Mahmoud Ahmadinejad should determine its foreign policy and take a stand on the nuclear program, which Ahmadinejad described as a priority. So far, he has resolved to uphold Iran's right to create a nuclear-fuel cycle, disregarding EU proposals and possible sanctions against Iran.
This stand by the new president, which he put forth during the election campaign, encouraged Tehran to change its stance in the dialog with the EU. Iran's team at the talks is apparently waiting to see what the Ahmadinejad administration will say after his inauguration. Will it revive previous agreements with the European Trio? And what will Iran's main adversary, the U.S., do about it?
Washington, which created the problem of the Iranian nuclear file and uses every chance to demand its immediate transfer to the UN Security Council, has notably softened its stance. State Department spokesman Tom Casey said after Tehran's latest sortie that Iran's resumption of the enrichment program did not violate the agreement with the EU.
Changes in Washington's policy regarding Iran can be explained by a desire to give the new Iranian leadership a chance to show its worth, which takes time. But this does not mean that the White House will necessarily change its position vis-a-vis Iran.
Tehran will most probably use the timeout, as it has often done before, to reconsider the advantages and drawbacks of the "nuclear file" issue, and will take a positive decision on the Trio's call not to resume nuclear programs and not to take unilateral steps.