On Thursday, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad surprisingly dispatched his Foreign Minister, Manouchehr Mottaki, to the Munich Security Conference. The organizers dedicated a special night session to him in the hopes he will say something that will appease the West.
Israel, which did not bother to send a high-level representative to the conference, expressed harsh protest because of the major platform granted to Mottaki. Yet the protest was unnecessary. Mottaki brought no news with him and merely presented another “new deal” crafted by Tehran that is in fact yet another deception ploy aimed at buying more time.
Mottaki offered a deal that would change nothing in respect to Iran’s nuclear project and will not allow close monitoring of what the Iranians are doing. However, one cannot fool everyone all the time. Mottaki’s performance of lies, which also rejected any concessions on the human rights front, was met with harsh objections by conference attendants.
Carrot and stick
Ahmadinejad got the hint. If Mottaki is the carrot, then Iran’s president is the stick. In the wake of the responses in Munich, the Iranian president on Sunday ordered the start of production of 20% enriched uranium. As opposed to the proposal extended by world powers, which would give Iran nuclear fuel that is very hard to turn into a bomb, Ahmadinejad ordered the kind of enrichment that is part of a military program.
Iran claims that it needs this uranium in order to operate the nuclear reactor in Tehran, which is a small reactor that deals with research and medical needs. Iran claims that the uranium it was provided with by the United States in the past has run out, and that it needs to enrich new uranium in its place. At this time, it possesses 4-5% uranium.
Ahmadinejad’s claim that the uranium is required for medical needs is a lie. In any case, the world powers’ proposal to Iran to enrich the uranium in France and send it back to Tehran after it has been processed (thereby preventing it from being used for other aims) would provide everything needed for a medical reactor.
Therefore, Iranian work to enrich uranium has three implications: The Iranians are continuing to give the West the finger, Iran is advancing towards the production of enriched uranium for nuclear weapons, and the moment its production facilities will start operating intensively it would be very difficult to monitor them.
Dr. Ronen Bergman is a member of the "Munich Young Leaders 2010" participating in the "Munich 46 Security Conference" in cooperation with the Körber Foundation