Russia: What Iranian nuclear-weapon program?

posted at 12:05 pm on January 2, 2012 by Ed Morrissey

Say, remember when the Obama administration sent Hillary Clinton to Geneva with a “reset button” for Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov to show that they would improve US-Russian relations, in large part to put more pressure on Iran to abandon its nuclear-weapons program?  Recall when Barack Obama betrayed the Poles — on the 70th anniversary of the Soviet invasion in World War II, no less — in abandoning the eastern Europe missile shield in order to get more Russian cooperation on Iran?  How has that demonstration of smart power worked out for us?

About as well as we thought (via Andrew McCarthy):

Russia has proof that Iran is not engaged in a nuclear weapon programme, a top Russian diplomat ha[s] said.

“We have verified data showing that there is no reliable evidence for the existence of a military component” in Iran’s nuclear programme, said Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov.

“To put it simpler, there is no proof of a military component in Iran’s nuclear program,” Mr. Ryabkov told Russia-24 TV news channel on Friday.

Ah well, I guess we can stop worrying about it, then — even though the IAEA found “credible” evidence that the Iranians have tested bomb components for a nuclear weapon, and could have enough fissile material to build a bomb within months.  They just finished testing their first domestically-produced nuclear fuel rod and have it installed in their research core, according to the Iranians themselves:

Iran has succeeded in building and testing the country’s first domestically produced nuclear fuel rod, the semi-official Fars news agency reported Sunday.

The uranium fuel rod was tested successfully and installed in the core of a research reactor in Tehran, the news agency said, citing Iran’s atomic energy agency website.

Fuel rods are stacks of low-enriched uranium pellets that are bundled together at the core of a nuclear reactor. Sunday’s announcement appeared aimed at demonstrating Iran’s growing sophistication in developing a home-grown nuclear program, amid fears from the West that it will use its knowledge to build nuclear weapons.

That’s not the only effort the Iranians have been making over the last few months.  According to the Washington Post, the Iranians are wooing Latin America in what looks like a replay of the Soviet Union’s diplomatic effort to put pressure on the US, as well as a way to evade sanctions:

Iran is quietly seeking to expand its ties with Latin America in what U.S. officials and regional experts say is an effort to circumvent economic sanctions and gain access to much-needed markets and raw materials.

The new diplomatic offensive, which comes amid rising tensions with Washington and European powers, includes a four-nation swing through South and Central America this month by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. His government has vowed to increase its economic, political and military influence in the United States’ back yard. …

Iran has also dramatically expanded its diplomatic missions throughout the hemisphere and dispatched members of its elite Quds Force — the military unit U.S. officials in October linked to a foiled assassination plot in Washington — to serve in its embassies, U.S. officials and Iran experts say.

The importance of Ahmadinejad’s visit was underscored last week by Iran’s state-owned Press TV, which said promotion of “all-out cooperation with Latin American countries is among the top priorities of the Islamic Republic’s foreign policy.”

What about those sanctions?  The Russians scolded the West for their harshness towards Tehran:

“Sanctions have gone way too far. They heavily outweigh what is being done in the sphere of talks. We must push harder on the negotiating track,” said the Russian Deputy Foreign Minister.

Smart power.  Maybe we should just start building the missile defense sites in Poland and the Czech Republic after all.


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