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A Proposal to Break the Iran-Nuke Deadlock

By: Kourosh Zam (source: Iran Daily, Oct. 26, 2004)

The European proposal to Iran to stop uranium enrichment activity in return for commercial and investment considerations and a guarantee of fuel supply to her nuclear power plants is an insult to our intelligence. We must have done a lot of wrong in other situations in order to deserve this child-like treatment. The US State Department spokesman also treated us as mentally retarded by suggesting that "Iran does not need nuclear energy", and showed ill intent by not distinguishing between civilian and military nuclear technology development in Iran.

The fact is that we must minimize use of our oil and gas reserves for fuel. They can be converted into thousands of consumer products needed by humans, not counting food. Besides, Fossil fuels are heavy air pollutants. Fact also is that we must get most of our power requirements from the clean and cheap nuclear source of power in the absence of better and safer substitute. We also must produce our own fuel for the nuclear power plants we plan to build, which is not going to be limited to the two in Bushehr. We must have the technology and we must have the equipment and we must be self-reliant. We cannot subject the country to the whims of the few potential suppliers who are more powerful than us, united, and who have their own ambitions in the region; that is, in the territory of our influence and national interest. We MUST NOT make our power industry hostage to those whose political goals may at times overpower commercial interests.

Iran needs to advance in nuclear science and technology not only for use in many civilian fields other than power, such as food, medicine, transportation, communication, etc., but also for the sake of science itself. Furthermore, Iran has rich underground reserves of uranium, which should be mined, processed, enriched and sold to other countries for their nuclear power plants. This, of course, must be done responsibly and under the supervision of the IAEA. There is no reason why we should not be able to be a supplier rather than a slaved buyer.

One of the problems the Islamic Republic has been facing has been its failure to gain the trust of the international community on a number of issues, nuclear activities included. I believe that the pressure on Iran is not solely for her suspected nuclear military programs. Big powers have nothing to worry about and they know it. The big-power midgets also have little to worry about and they know it too. So, it's either for the Islamic Republic to submit to most of what they demand, which is short of enslaving Iran in the nuclear field, or to reconsider certain of its external and internal policies looming in the background of these problems.

Notwithstanding, I have a proposal which might open the way for negotiation with the big powers on issues related to the nuclear power plant and the fuel production. The main concern of the European big three and the Americans is their mistrust of the Islamic Republic's lack of clarity and, to some extent, Iran's partnership with Russia. Moreover, I do not believe that the Russians, whose interest lies in their trade and investment relations with the West, can and will finish the Bushehr plants without West's blessings. They would have to obtain some vital parts needed for commissioning of the plants from the West anyway. This is why we've been toyed with by the Russians since 1990, when they first contracted to finish the plants. I visited the bombed plants during the Iran-Iraq war, through the IAEO, and suggested then that they can be finished in two years' time. Furthermore, I believe that if nuclear power plants are going to be built in Iran, the European big three and the Americans are not going to let anyone else do it. The contracts for two dozen power plants which were planned for Iran 30 years ago belonged to Germany, France and the U.S. My guess is that they want to come back and do it themselves, this time U.K. included.

So, I propose that the three European musketeers, the U.S. too, come and invest in the Iranian nuclear power plant business, a joint venture with Iran which should give them at least 50% ownership interest in the business. This way, they can directly control the fuel usage and disposal. They will profit in three ways: profiting from the construction contracts, profiting from the operation, and having the feeling of security about the usage of enriched uranium. Iran, on the other hand, will have the dozens of the nuclear power plants she needs and must have, will share the cost with her partners thus reducing the capital investment requirements and will gain the trust of the international community about her intention.

I further propose that the uranium enrichment operation for fuel production also be conducted by a commercial company owned and operated jointly by Iran and the partners of the power plants. Iran's own academicians and researchers thus can continue to conduct their work in an international environment under IAEA supervision. I invite the Iranian negotiators to study this proposal and use it as a compromise plan at their next joint meeting.

... Payvand News - 10/28/04 ... --

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