Does Iran's nuclear announcement spell defiance or desire to talk?
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad visiting the Natanz uranium enrichment facility, 270 kms south of Tehran, in 2008.
February 15th, 2012
11:14 PM ET

Does Iran's nuclear announcement spell defiance or desire to talk?

By Elise Labott

Iran's announcement Wednesday about the status of its nuclear program may say more about the defiance of the regime in the face of escalating sanctions than signaling any significant nuclear advances.

Before Wednesday, the question foremost on people's minds was whether the announcement would signal Iran was moving closer toward getting a nuclear weapon, crossing a red line which could force Israel to take a preemptive military strike.

That question got a lot of eye-rolling post-announcement.

"Israel was expecting a major announcement," said Fred Fleitz, managing editor of the intelligence forecasting service and a former nonproliferation official under President George W. Bush. "This is it? Israel is not going to be worried about this. But it does suggest they aren't willing to change and it's certainly not going to encourage anyone to negotiate with them."

But negotiations could be the name of the game. Just as Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was placing fuel rods into Tehran's research reactor to great fanfare, the regime was sending a letter to European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton about resuming nuclear talks with world powers. Coincidence? Unlikely.

Ahmadinejad's show may have merely been staged for public consumption, designed to wrap the regime in a nuclear flag and rally them in the face of crippling sanctions. Iran's nuclear program is still an issue of national pride and one rare point of consensus among Iran's fractured regime, which Ahmadinejad could use to his advantage in next month's parliamentary elections.

Or it could, as some experts believe, be meant to suggest that Iran is willing to negotiate with the West about its nuclear program.

Tough sanctions on the regime have begun to trickle down to the Iranian people, and the suffering is sure to intensify once curbs against Iranian oil exports take effect in June. By responding to an invitation for talks from so-called P5 Plus 1 (the United States, Britain, France, Russia, China and Germany) on the same day it declares nuclear advances, Tehran may be saying it expects to come to the table from a position of strength.

But that might be wishful thinking on the regime's part. The announcement fell flat in Washington, with State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland declared it "not terribly impressive."

Simply put, the nuclear revelations didn't live up to the hype. Tehran's claims that it had inserted its domestically produced fuel rods in its nuclear reactor and that it had a "new generation" of centrifuges at its Natanz facility capable of more rapidly enriching uranium were neither alarming nor surprising, experts say.

Iran had already announced last month it had produced the fuel rods for its Tehran Research Reactor, which is used to make medical isotopes. The reactor, which was running out of fuel, was the subject of a proposed deal between Tehran and the P5 plus 1 powers in which a Western country would provide fuel for the reactor in exchange for Iran giving up a majority of its low-enriched uranium stockpile. Even with the fuel rods, the reactor is not considered to be a significant proliferation risk because it uses a small amount of fuel, making it too difficult and time-consuming to provide weapons-grade uranium.

It's unclear whether Iran even has the technical expertise to produce quality fuel rods capable of operating the research reactor or - more important - its Bushehr reactor, which is far more powerful and has the capability to produce weapons-grade uranium. Currently, Russia makes the fuel rods for Bushehr.

What's more, U.S. officials and nonproliferation experts alike have challenged Iran's claims about the capacity and sophistication of its centrifuges. The 9,000 centrifuges spinning at its Natanz plant since 2009 have given Iran's nuclear experts all sorts of trouble. They haven't worked well or produced great amounts of uranium, but they've eaten up precious raw materials that Tehran is finding in increasingly short supply due to ever stronger sanctions. It's unclear whether the new advanced ones they rolled out Wednesday are operable yet or even capable of working.

"None of this is a big technical accomplishment," says David Albright, a leading nuclear expert with the Washington-based Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS).

Tehran, Albright suggests, chose its accomplishments carefully. That Ahmadinejad did not mention the enrichment at the Fordow nuclear enrichment facility, which is built deep into a mountain near the city of Qom and is considered a major flashpoint for Israel, could actually suggest a willingness to be engage in negotiations.

"They could have announced that they plan to install 1,000 advanced centrifuges at Fordow or further increase production of 20 percent enriched uranium," Albright said, referring to Iran's advanced state of enrichment, which has caused international concern. "The fact they didn't is a positive."

But he notes even Iran's modest accomplishments constitute slow progress that the international community can't ignore.

"Iran continues to make progress on its nuclear program" Albright warns. "So the problem of dealing with Iran hasn't been eased by today."

Post by:
Filed under: Ahmadinejad • Arms Control • Diplomacy • IAEA • Iran • Middle East • Nuclear
soundoff (939 Responses)
  1. assisted living near me

    Your style is unique in comparison to other people I've read stuff from. Many thanks for posting when you have the opportunity, Guess I will just book mark this site.

    June 13, 2021 at 2:37 am | Reply
  2. library near me

    June 12, 2021 at 8:31 pm | Reply
  3. halloween stores near me

    Hello! I could have sworn Iíve visited this web site before but after going through a few of the posts I realized itís new to me. Nonetheless, Iím definitely happy I came across it and Iíll be bookmarking it and checking back frequently!

    June 12, 2021 at 7:05 pm | Reply
  4. VelmSwa

    generic cialis for sale generic cialis black tab cialis

    June 12, 2021 at 6:42 pm | Reply
  5. nurseries near me

    After exploring a handful of the blog posts on your site, I seriously like your technique of blogging. I saved as a favorite it to my bookmark site list and will be checking back soon. Please check out my website as well and let me know what you think.

    June 12, 2021 at 6:40 pm | Reply
  6. buy here pay here near me

    June 12, 2021 at 4:16 pm | Reply
  7. ford dealer near me

    This website was... how do you say it? Relevant!! Finally I have found something that helped me. Appreciate it!

    June 12, 2021 at 2:59 pm | Reply
  8. gym near me

    Very good article! We will be linking to this great post on our website. Keep up the good writing.

    June 12, 2021 at 2:47 pm | Reply
  9. Garth Fougere

    June 12, 2021 at 1:32 pm | Reply
  10. Sid Gaukroger

    I was able to find good advice from your articles.

    June 12, 2021 at 1:29 pm | Reply
  11. Marvin Hemmig

    This site was... how do I say it? Relevant!! Finally I have found something that helped me. Cheers!

    June 12, 2021 at 1:21 pm | Reply
  12. Pam Martone

    June 12, 2021 at 1:11 pm | Reply
  13. fipleVed

    cialis without prescripe where to buy cialis cialis samples free by mail

    June 12, 2021 at 1:07 pm | Reply
  14. Trailer Repair Shops Near Me

    June 12, 2021 at 6:13 am | Reply
  15. Repair Cost On Mercedes Sprinter Van

    June 12, 2021 at 5:54 am | Reply
  16. Van Technician Shop Near Me

    June 12, 2021 at 5:19 am | Reply
  17. RV Upholstery Orange County

    June 12, 2021 at 5:19 am | Reply
  18. bucket truck california

    Having read this I believed it was very informative. I appreciate you finding the time and energy to put this informative article together. I once again find myself spending a lot of time both reading and leaving comments. But so what, it was still worth it!

    June 11, 2021 at 9:48 pm | Reply
  19. Sprinter Van Repair Shops

    This site was... how do you say it? Relevant!! Finally I have found something which helped me. Appreciate it!

    June 11, 2021 at 8:24 pm | Reply
  20. Sprinter Van Repair Near Me

    June 11, 2021 at 6:16 pm | Reply
  21. Airport Van Repair

    Way cool! Some extremely valid points! I appreciate you penning this post and the rest of the website is also very good.

    June 11, 2021 at 6:15 pm | Reply
  22. RV Steps Los Angeles

    June 11, 2021 at 6:14 pm | Reply
  23. oc trailers

    Spot on with this write-up, I honestly believe this amazing site needs much more attention. Iíll probably be back again to read more, thanks for the advice!

    June 11, 2021 at 2:30 pm | Reply
  24. near me

    Pretty! This has been a really wonderful post. Many thanks for providing this information.


    June 11, 2021 at 2:24 pm | Reply
  25. Starr Olubunmi

    This is the right website for anybody who wants to understand this topic. You realize a whole lot its almost tough to argue with you (not that I really would want toÖHaHa). You definitely put a brand new spin on a topic that's been written about for ages. Excellent stuff, just great!

    June 11, 2021 at 7:52 am | Reply
  26. Ezekiel Jasko

    June 11, 2021 at 7:32 am | Reply
  27. Dario Petr

    June 11, 2021 at 6:32 am | Reply
  28. rv repair shops

    Hi! I could have sworn Iíve been to this web site before but after looking at many of the articles I realized itís new to me. Regardless, Iím certainly pleased I stumbled upon it and Iíll be book-marking it and checking back regularly!

    June 11, 2021 at 4:27 am | Reply
  29. Tameika Morvant

    Very nice blog post. I definitely love this site. Keep writing!

    June 11, 2021 at 12:32 am | Reply
  30. Harland Wrightington

    I would like to thank you for the efforts you've put in penning this site. I really hope to check out the same high-grade blog posts by you later on as well. In truth, your creative writing abilities has inspired me to get my own, personal site now 😉

    June 10, 2021 at 8:41 pm | Reply
  31. Hoyt Flocco

    Great post. I will be dealing with many of these issues as well..

    June 10, 2021 at 8:41 pm | Reply
1 2 3 4 5 6 7

Leave a Reply to truck shop orange


CNN welcomes a lively and courteous discussion as long as you follow the Rules of Conduct set forth in our Terms of Service. Comments are not pre-screened before they post. You agree that anything you post may be used, along with your name and profile picture, in accordance with our Privacy Policy and the license you have granted pursuant to our Terms of Service.