Last week, I was discussing the Iranian’s desire to maintain their own state run sites for enriching uranium for the purposes of producing nuclear fuel for power plants…or weapons, depending on your opinion. Well, it would seem that this week has offered up just a little bit more of the same and I felt it would be important to follow up on that last post with a short update.
This week, the International Atomic Energy Agency passed a resolution that condemned the Iranians for developing an enrichment center near the town of Qom. More than two-thirds of the countries who make up the IAEA voted in support of the resolution against the Islamic Republic. In a CNN News report, the White House said the "overwhelming vote" underscores "the resolve and unity of the international community with regard to Iran's nuclear program" and senior administration officials said the United States had warned Iran Friday that it is prepared to push for significantly stronger economic sanctions in wake of the resolution (http://www.cnn.com/2009/WORLD/meast/11/27/iran.nuclear/index.html).
In response, the Iranian government has decided to take a less than friendly stance on the level of cooperation they are prepared to give to the IAEA for the duration of this debate. This weekend, the Iranian Parliament signed a letter urging their government to reduce its cooperation with the international agency and to take an even harder stance against the opposition to their nuclear programs. Additionally, it was reported that there are plans to move forward with the creation of new facilities in Iran for the enrichment of uranium. Totaling ten new sites, the government has already begun preliminary construction of the first five. The Iranian government has announced that the site will be used to produce enough nuclear fuel to power the entire country, an estimated 250-300 tons of fuel (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/8385275.stm).
Many on the other side of the debate will undoubtedly see the opening of new centers for enrichment a direct slap in the face of the international community seeking to limit the efforts of the Iranians’ nuclear program. How will the United Nations, the West and other respond? Only the week to come will bring the answer to that question. Although the debate over whether or not Iran even has the right to nuclear capability appears to be getting hotter long before its cooling off, and that does not bode well for future stability in both the Middle East and Central Asia. There will be much more to come on this topic, I can guarantee it.